Skip to main content

Full text of "Twenty-five years in British Guiana"

See other formats

rwEK: . .-ivi. . .;. RS 

















HENRY KIRKE, M.A., B.C.L., Oxox. 





Si. Qimsttn'si &>0usr 






Introduction Changes in twenty-five years First impressions of 
British Guiana Mosquitoes Frogs Georgetown Houses in 
Guiana Drainage Heat and damp Society Absence of the 
leisured and literary classes Newspaper press Anthony 
Trollope Boddam-Whetham Monotony of life Position of 
British Guiana unknown Travellers' tales Climate Early 
burials Yellow fever Funerals Difficulty of burial 
Leprosy Hospitals ... 


A thirsty country Swizzles Georgetown Club Visits of the fleet 
Swizzleiana Pepper-pot Miss Gerty's kitten Planters Mr. 
Henry Clementson His burglary Medical service Old-time 
doctors The Bar Dick Whitfield Lynch Samuel T. Fitz- 
Herbert Macaronic verses Church endowments Cake walks 
Rally of the tribes Ladies in British Guiana Sexual re- 
lations Establishments Children of the poor Quasi-slavery 
Roman Dutch Law Emancipation of women Tigress of 
Tiger Bay Tim Sugar Assaulting the sheriff ... ... 23 


Colonel Foster-Foster " Home " Coloured gentry Census papers 
Curious returns The Zoo in Georgetown List of animals 
German warships Learning a new language Plain vernacular 

a 3 



Amusements in British Guiana Racing D'Urban race- 
course Blood stock Georgetown races Belfield Cricket 
Ted Wright English teams Chinese cricketers Black players 
Dancing Creole Congo Hindoo Reminiscences Officials 
X Beke Military force White troops West Indian Regi- 
ment Soldiers' burial-ground 98th Regiment Withdrawal of 
troops Venezuelan raid Uruan Capture of the post Vixen 
'Varsity dinner Mr. James Crosby Crosby office Insect 
plagues Cockroaches Ants Centipedes Hardbacks Mara- 
buntas Electric light Gas Beckwith's hotel ... ... 50 


Equatorial zone Tropical vegetation Forests Striking effects 
Gardens in British Guiana Fauna Shooting Game bags 
Muscovy ducks Hoatzin Jaguars Waracabra tigers Deer 
Peccary Tapir Monkeys Iguanas Snakes Fishing 
Cuflfum Lukananni Cannibal snakes Essequibo and Aroa- 
bisce coast Old-time planters Racecourse Hospitality 
Practical jokes Clergy Dean Austin Rev. William Brett 
St. John's Church Medical officers Riot on the coast An 
awkward predicament A faithful sentry Sheriff Humphreys 
Miss Anna Austin ... 79 


Monotony of life Trips in the bush Pomeroon journey Tappa- 
cooma Lake Aripiaco Creek Cabacaburi Mission Mr. and 
Mrs. Heard Medora Bishop Austin Maccaseema McClin- 
tock Indian chief Im Thurn Bivouac Benaboo Howling 
baboons Carib settlement Piwarrie Captain Jeffreys Indian 
names Samboura Cooking under difficulties Indian dance 
A sunken boat Anna Regina Onomatopoetic birds Super- 
naam Indian Mission Sermon Huis t' Dieren Boiler explo- 
sion Manslaughter Coolie settlement ... ... ... 107 


Ikarakka Lake Capoey racecourse Riding catastrophe Marooning 
Ituribisce Creek Indian settlements Flights of butterflies 
Arawak Indians Duffryn Mission Manatee Island Dauntless 


Bank Manatees at the Aquarium and the Zoo Bartica, 
Essequibo River Gold discovery Rev. William Pierce Rail- 
ways Christian mission Rev. Thomas Youd Church 
Situation for a future city Mechanics under indenture Peter 
McPherson His death Better success Africans Congo 
language Thick skins Jubilee at Hampton Court Firework 
display ... ... ... 129 


Bovianders Aboriginal Indians Indian women Waterton 
George Augustus Sala Piwarrie Character of Indians 
Kanaima Murder of Simon the Arawak's wife Indian im- 
passivity Impatience of confinement Doctrine of clothes 
Old customs Floating shops Smuggling Akyma Bremner 
family Old graves A tomb in the wilderness Alaric Watts 
Sebacabra Fishing Old woodskin Dances Christian- 
burgh Paterson Dalgin Sergeant Alleyne Surgical opera- 
tions Mora Sergeant Blunt Brittlebank Miscegenation 
Napier's "Peninsular War" Kroomen Joe Arecuna Indians 
Maroons ... ... 147 


Decay of river population Rise of the gold industry Kanaimapoo 
Mecropie Water-mammas Coomarroo Vampire bats 
George Couchman Visit to the Orarumalali Falls Derrire Hill 
Comarramarra Koomparoo Rapids Camanna fish Car- 
roquia Eneyeudah Mission Thunderstorm Great Falls 
Snakes Palaver with the Indians Captain Tiger Dyed 
Indians Scarlet dog Her Majesty's penal settlement Massa- 
nmi River Ticket-of-leave men Convicts Their sentiments 
Confidence in magistrates The wife of Ramdass Kykoveral 
Fort Island Fred Hamblin Theatrical entertainment 
West Indian Regiment Colonel Fygelmesy New Amsterdam 
ball Old Woolward Life in New Amsterdam Dr. Hackett 
Anthony Trollope Official etiquette D.M.Gallagher Lunatic 
Asylum Corentyne coast Smuggling Wild-duck shooting 
Elections Vendues Atlantic voyages ... ... ... 174 




Emancipation Immigration schemes East Indians Chinese 
Dangerous characters The coolie Invested savings Mowla 
Buksh Chan-a-fook, the burglar and murderer Execution of 
Chinese at Suddie Christian Chinese Their honesty and 
sincerity Opium-smoking Gambling Chinese settlement, 
Camounie Creek Queer dishes Chinese immigrants ex Corona 
Similarity of appearance Concubines Suicides East Indian 
immigrants Scarcity of women Difficulty in obtaining wives 
Polyandry Purchase of wives Girl or cow Adultery 
Frequent murders Case of Seecharam Mutilation and murder 
of his wife Execution of Seecharam Transmigration of souls 
Indian superstitions Marriage at Aurora Tragic results ... 206 


Perjury: in the Divorce Court; generally; amongst Hindoos 
Family ties Caste Case of Ptookminia Perjury a duty Her 
imprisonment Eelease Gratitude Various races and creeds 
in British Guiana Variety of judicial oaths Curious Chinese 
oaths Hindoo beliefs Results of education Names of children, 
Hindi, Congo Bindharry and his pretty daughters A dis- 
appointed lover Large amount of savings made by coolies 
Mootee Champagne-drinking Deposit in the Bank of Bengal 
Hardships of coolies returning to India Extortion by priests 
and relatives Marriage contracts Consideration money 
Baboo English Marriages between children Complications 
Fatalism Oriental imagery" Found dead " Mortuary . . . 232 


Negro population Their manners and habits Slavery The African 
at home Ashanti Benin Amelioration of slavery in the 
colony Fine race Nocturnal habits Servants Stealing or 
taking Oratory and letter-writing A little knowledge is a 
dangerous thing Amusing witnesses Curious use of words- 
Intoxication, definition of What is heaven? Miscegenation 
Half-and-half illegitimacy Mulattoes Division of races 
Illegitimate births Marriage garments " Love, honour, and 



obey " An uncertain husband Wifely obedience Dangers of 
marriage A provident husband Consolation for widows 
High-sounding titles Judas Iscariot The Goddess of Chaste 
What is a bachelor ? Au revoir Want of midwives ; their 
ignorance and brutality ... ... ... ... 252 


Good conduct of the coloured people Occasional outbreaks Riots 
in Georgetown Portuguese shopkeepers Antipathy between 
them and the masses Murder of Julia Chase March, 1889 
Assault in the market Rising of the people Police Special 
constables Street fighting Incendiary fires West Indian Regi- 
ment Volunteers Proclamation Permission to fire Result 
Arrival of blue-jackets and marines of H.M.S. Canada 
Unfortunate murder Running amok Excitement Emptying 
the gaol Ludicrous results Compensation for damage done 
by rioters Creole superstitions Obeah Poisoning Education 
Want of reverence Confirmation Jumping Jenny 
Coloured gentlemen Extension of the franchise A local civil 
service Painless dentistiy A state of prognostication The 
benefits of corporation ... ... ... ... ... 271 


Criminals Murderers I have known Causes of murder Origin of 
crime Cause of crime in British Guiana Classification of 
criminals Amount of crime Its cause Scarcity of women 
Colonial laws Brutal child-wife murder Jealousy Revenge 
Execution of felons Composure of condemned men Brain 
exhaustion Murder of Mrs. Walsh Terrible scene Walsh's 
strange defence and behaviour Trial and execution Murders 
by Portuguese Texeira Excitement of his countrymen 
Murders by Arabs Cayenne Escaped convicts Annamese 
and Tonquinese criminals Numerous languages spoken in 
sheriff's office Interpreters and their manners Russian va- 
grants National odours Executioners Hamlet His bungling 
and brutality Execution of Butler Painful scene Brown 
The difficulties of a sheriff ... 290 




Moral education Filthy dwellings of the poor Corporation of 
Georgetown Want of benefactors Paul de Saffon Trotman 
Disapproval of criminals Its absence Bantus Immorality 
Concubinage Industrial schools Whipping Flogging as a 
deterrent A careless warder Jack in office A hopeless case 
Female obstinacy Burglary Blackman Betrayed by a 
woman An ingenious thief Death by lightning Curious 
results A jealous Mohammedan Mutilation A strange case 
Murder without a motive An injured damsel Her revenge 
The biter bit 308 


Bishop Austin Consecration of the new cathedral His farewell 
address Climate of British Guiana Educational difficulties 
Curse of tropical service Planters' troubles Fall in price of 
sugar Bounty-fed beet The immigration system The East 
Indian at home Change for the better His position in Deme- 
rara Magistrates' Courts Oriental imagery Famine in India 
Plenty in British Guiana Malingerers A paradise for the 
poor Village communities Colonial peasantry Gold industry 
Diamonds How to make British Guiana prosperous ... 329 

APPENDIX A. ... ... ... ... ... ... 347 


APPENDIX C. ... ... ... ... ... ... 354 

INDEX ... ... ... ... ... ... 359 


THE AUTHOR ... ... (From a Photo) Frontispiece 


4TH, 1874 / ( From a Pnto) 

SEA WALL, GEORGETOWN ... ... ... 14 


FRUIT GIRL ... ... ... ... (From a Photo) 28 

IN THE WET SAVANNAH ... ... ... 80 












"TIGRESS OF TIGER BAY" ... ... ... 260 






Introduction Changes in twenty- five years First impressions of British 
Guiana Mosquitoes Frogs Georgetown Houses in Guiana 
Drainage Heat and damp Society Absence of the leisured and 
literary classes Newspaper press Anthony Trollope Boddam- 
Whetham Monotony of life British Guiana Its position unknown 
Travellers' tales Climate Early burials Yellow fever Funerals 
Difficulty of burial Leprosy Hospitals. 

IN one of her interesting books, Mrs. Oliphant 
refuses to include under the head of "literature " 
Eeminiscences and Kecollections, as she says that 
they are only written to gratify the vanity of 
garrulous old men, and are of no value from a 
literary point of view. This may be true, but at 
the same time it cannot be denied that even the 
worst written and most stupid book of reminiscences 
may contain some valuable facts, and anecdotes 
may therein be treasured up which may prove of 
great value to the future historian or sociologist. 

: : . : - ,% B 
v '" , 


How much do we not owe to the many diaries 
and reminiscences written by Englishmen and 
Frenchmen during the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries ? So, despite Mrs. Oliphant's strictures, 
and disregarding the fact that some " indolent 
reviewers," if they condescend to notice this book, 
may put me down as a garrulous and vain old man, 
I shall proceed to write down my " Kecollections 
of British Guiana " as it was during my connection 
with the colony from 1872 to 1897, in the hope 
that my readers, gentle or otherwise, may find 
something therein both to amuse and instruct 

Colonies change so rapidly, both as to men, 
manners, and customs, that the colony of British 
Guiana when I left it was totally different from 
the colony as I found it. The land itself had 
changed; old landmarks had disappeared, and 
new ones sprung up ; flourishing islands are in 
existence where not long ago the tide ebbed and 
flowed ; railways and steam vessels are now hurry- 
ing through vast territories only known twenty 
years ago to the fierce Carib or placid Arawak; 
gold diggers and diamond searchers are swarming 
up every great river and gloomy creek, and the 
whole face of the country is being rapidly changed. 
And with this change of circumstances the people 
have changed. The old quaint manners and 
habits have disappeared; the .old legends are 
vanishing; the people dress and talk as others; 
the electric light illuminates their houses; the 
tramcar patrols their streets; the silk chimney- 









pot of civilization is constantly in evidence ; and 
they are as other men. The world is gradually 
acquiring a painful similarity; in a few hundred 
years every one will dress alike and speak the 
same language, and the human race will he reduced 
to one dull commonplace level of uniformity. 

After the lapse of so many years, it is difficult 
to remember what made the most impression upon 
a stranger landing in British Guiana at George- 
town. I believe what struck me most were the 
mosquitoes and the frogs. To new-comers the 
mosquitoes are more than a nuisance, they cause 
actual pain and inconvenience : I have known 
people unable to put on their boots for weeks 
owing to the inflammation caused by these pests. 
In such a damp climate, and where the country 
is intersected in all directions by canals and 
trenches, frogs enjoy a sort of paradise. There 
are a great variety of batrachians, from the tiny 
little piping frogs that hide themselves in goblets 
and water bottles, to the huge bull frog that 
bellows in the marshes. The noise caused by 
these animals in Georgetown at certain times of 
the year is deafening to a new-comer, but it is 
curious that after a time you become so accus- 
tomed to ifc that it passes without notice, unless 
your attention is specially called to it, or it is 
unusually vociferous. 

Georgetown, the capital of British Guiana, the 
Venice of the West Indies, as it has been called, 
is certainly a strange place, and one calculated to 
excite the interest and admiration of every one. 


Beneath the level of the sea at springtides, the 
city is defended from the waves of the Atlantic by a 
granite breakwater two miles long, stretching from 
Fort William Frederick at the mouth of the river 
Demerara to Plantation Kitty on the East coast : 
great granite groins run out from it into the sea 
every sixty yards or so, to break the force of the 

' waves ; whilst the wall, which is twenty-five feet 
wide on the top, is utilized as a promenade and 

[health resort in the afternoons and evenings. 
This sea wall was commenced in 1858, and was 
not completed until 1892. It was built principally 
by convict labour, and all the granite was brought 
from the penal settlement on the Massaruni River. 
The streets in Georgetown are all rectangular ; the 
city is intersected in all directions by open canals 
and drains, which are crossed by innumerable 
bridges. These, at the time I first went out to 
the colony, were -made of wood, which have since 
been replaced by handsome structures built of 
iron and cement. Main Street is certainly one 
of the prettiest streets I ever saw. About forty 
yards wide, it is divided up the middle by a wide 
canal full of the Victoria Regia lily, the canal, 
and the roads on each side, being shaded by an 
avenue of saman trees. Handsome houses, painted 
white, or some bright colour, are built on each 
side of the street, nearly all of which are surrounded 
by gardens, full of crotons, palms, poinsettias, 
bourgainvilleas, and all sorts of bright-hued plants 
and flowers; on some of the trees can be seen 
clusters of cattleyas with their mauve and rose- 


coloured flowers ; from another an oncidinm throws 
out its racemes of odorous petals, four to five feet 
in length. The Brick dam, as it is called, is 
another beautiful boulevard more than a mile in 
length, bordered on both sides by lovely flowering 
trees and lofty palms. 

Houses in Guiana are almost entirely made of 
wood, raised upon brick pillars from eight to ten 
feet high, to enjoy the breeze, and avoid damp 
and malaria. The colony provides excellent hard- 
wood timber which will last for ages, but for 
cheapness builders, whilst using colony timber 
for the framework of the houses, use American 
lumber for the walls and partitions. This soon 
rots, the ants and the damp climate destroy it 
rapidly, and the outside of a house, despite fre- 
quent paintings, will require renewal every ten 
years. The system of drainage is primitive. The 
rain water is drained off by the canals, which are 
connected with the Demerara Eiver by sluices, the 
doors of which can only be opened for twelve 
hours in the day, when the tide is falling or only 
just beginning to rise. The house drainage is 
poured into cesspools, which are unlined, so that 
it soaks into the ground. These pits are rarely 
emptied, and when this is done, another pit is 
dug in the compound, and the filth from one 
poured into the other. In this way the whole 
city is becoming a mass of cesspools, which it will 
be dangerous to disturb. No wonder that the late 
Surgeon-General (Dr. Grieve) spoke out plainly 
about this suicidal policy, but nothing has been 


done to remedy the evil. Since writing the above, 
the Town Council of Georgetown have bestirred 
themselves; odourless excavators have been pur- 
chased, which clean out the cesspools, but the 
filthy habit still prevails of emptying their contents 
into the river, causing frightful stenches and mal- 
odourous deposits. But let us leave this very 
unsavoury reminiscence. 

The principal recollections that one has of 
British Guiana are of its heat and dampness. It 
is one of the hottest places in the world, that is, 
as regards mean temperature all the year round, 
night and day. The temperature is never excessive, 
as in some parts of India and Africa in the summer, 
but there is no compensation in the shape of a 
cool season such as those places enjoy in the winter. 
Without change, the shade temperature remains 
the same for weeks and months, varying from 
82 to 88 ; sometimes, when there has been a very 
heavy fall of rain and no sun for two days, the 
mercury will register 78, when we all shiver and 
shake, put on mackintoshes, and long for the sun 
and warmth. Again, at the end of the dry season, 
when the thunder clouds are piling up in the 
south, the mercury sportively leaps up to 90, and 
remains there for a day or two, until thunder and 
rain bring it down a little. I once saw a ther- 
mometer which registered 55, but some wag had 
put it into the ice chest, and flourished it about 
in support of his assertion that it was a cold night. 
As to rain, I cannot say that it always rains, but 
I will say that there are very few days in the year 


when it never rains in some part of the country. 
The rainfall of the colony on the coast varies from 
90 to 140 inches, so it cannot be called a dry 
country, although droughts lasting for several 
months occasionally occur. One thing is satis- j 
factory when it does rain there is no doubt about 
it, the water comes down with a rush and a pelt 
which leaves no doubt or anxiety in the mind as 
to whether it is raining or not. It always amused 
me when I returned to England to hear people 
arguing whether it rained or not, and flattening 
their noses against the window-pane to see, or 
putting out their hands to feel for, the drops of 
rain. Sometimes the rainfall was somewhat phe- 
nomenal. I remember sixteen inches falling in 
one night, and more than two inches one morning 
during the half-hour in which we were taking our 

I may say at once that I have no intention of 
putting anything into this book which could hurt 
any person's feelings, so I shall abstain from writing 
any scandals about the frien&s or associates 
amongst whom I spent so many happy years of my 
life. The white population of British Guiana 
differs little from a similar class in England. 
Society is composed of the usual elements, officials, 
professional men, merchants and planters with 
their wives and families, who are as well bred and 
well educated as people of the same avocations in 
other countries. If there be any distinction to be 
made, I think I should give it in favour of the 
colonists. Certainly in no other place have I 


seen such sympathy, hospitality, and generosity 
as I have seen displayed in British Guiana. Of 
course during a long sojourn in the colony, I have 
known some strange characters, and had some 
strange experiences, but I should be sorry to rake 
up old stories which would be of no benefit to my 
readers, and might give pain to many innocent 
persons ; so if any old colonist opens these pages 
in the hope of reviving the memories of bygone 
scandals and iniquities, I fear that he will be 
disappointed. It is impossible to avoid some 
unpleasant details if I am to give a truthful im- 
pression of the colony, but I have introduced as 
few as possible ; and the individuals who were 
responsible for them will only be recognized by 
those who were well aware of the facts before I 
narrated them. It is true that in most colonies 
there are a few black sheep, who have been shipped 
thither by despairing friends and relations, after 
having failed to find them any satisfactory position 
in England ; but the majority of the ruling caste 
are energetic men who, failing to find an opening 
for their talents in their native land, have pushed 
towards that Greater Britain beyond the seas, 
where there is still elbow-room for all who want 
to work. 

The only material difference between society 
in British Guiana and Great Britain, is in the 
absence of the leisured and literary classes. It is 
difficult, if not impossible, to find an idle man in 
the colony. Those who have amassed enough 
money to enable them to live at ease, take their 


flight to healthier climes ; and when any worker 
feels the necessity for rest, he seeks it in a sea 
voyage and change of scene. The absence of all 
artistic and literary society might by some be 
deemed a drawback. 

During my stay in the colony, it was my good 
fortune to meet many highly educated men, clas- 
sical and mathematical scholars, men of great 
erudition, botanists, zoologists, and the learned in 
other lines not a few were well known in the 
world of letters but still they were in a very 
small minority, and, unlike leaven, they had no 
influence upon the general lump. When we turn 
to art, it must be confessed that we were singularly 
wanting. A few there were who tried to arouse 
some feeling for the true and the beautiful in art 
and nature, but the seed fell on barren ground 
and produced no fruit. But young and vigorous 
communities are too much occupied in providing 
for the necessities of life to have time for art 
studies, which must be sought amongst old and 
somewhat decaying civilizations. In one respect 
the colony was singularly fortunate, in the pos- 
session of an independent and well-conducted 
press. The newspapers published in the colony, 
although few in number, were excellent in material, 
and will compare favourably with the journals of 
much larger and more influential communities. I 
would especially mention TJie Argosy, a weekly 
newspaper, owned, edited, and published by my 
friend Mr. James Thomson, which is by far the 
highest class newspaper published in the West 


Indies, and which owes its inception and pros- 
perity to the individual exertions of its owner. 
I have had occasion, in writing these Keminis- 
cences, to refer frequently to the old files of The 
Argosy, from which I have refreshed my memory 
as to several occurrences, and to which I am in- 
debted for some amusing anecdotes illustrating 
my remarks on men and things. 

This is not a guide book, and Georgetown is 
now so well known, that any one curious on the 
subject can find a description of the place in 
various books of travel. Perhaps the best and 
most humorous account of the colony and its 
capital is to be found in Anthony Trollope's 
"West Indies and Spanish Main." Boddam- 
Whetham, in his Eoraima book, gives an accurate 
and well-painted sketch of the city. But I think 
no one has yet given a true word-painting which 
can convey to the reader any idea of the excessive 
brightness of the place, caused by the width of 
the streets, the red roads, numerous fine white 
buildings and churches, the wealth of foliage and 
flower everywhere conspicuous, all lit up with an 
intense equatorial sunshine. 

The city is embowered in trees : its aspect 
from the top of the lighthouse is of a sea of palms, 
out of which rise at intervals towers, spires, and 
campanile. For a great part of the year, the 
flamboyant trees make your eyes ache with the 
gorgeousness of their scarlet flowers, whilst in 
September and October the long-Johns break 
the sky line with their rich cream-coloured plumes, 


changing week by week to a real burnt sienna. 
The brilliancy of the flowers is rivalled by the 
gay scarlets, yellows, and greens, which clothe 
the limbs of the delicate Hindoos and stalwart 
negresses perambulating the streets. One of the 
greatest drawbacks to the colony as a residence, 
is the monotony of existence within its borders. 
There is no winter, nor autumn, nor spring it is 
one perpetual summer. One day is like another, 
except that some days it rains and on others it 
does not, and for a few months the weather is 
hotter and more unpleasant than usual. There 
is never a cold breeze, no gales, no hurricanes ; 
the earthquakes are insignificant ; the thunder- 
storms on the coast infrequent and inoffensive. 

The food is always the same ; the same tough, 
insipid meat and sodden vegetables ; lean fowls 
and tasteless fish ; oranges, pine - apples, and 
bananas, all the year round; mangoes for six 
months; sapodillas and star-apples are almost 
always with us. It is this sameness of food which 
makes us so greedy when we go home. How you 
revel in the variety of fish, flesh, and fowl, the 
tender spring vegetables, the luscious strawberries, 
the fruit tart with cream ! oh heavens ! how 
delicious they were ! It were worth several years 
of exile to experience the joy of quaffing a 
draught of English beer, and the sitting down 
to the fried sole and delicious bread and butter 
of an English breakfast. 

The three colonies of Essequibo, Berbice, and 
Demerara were amalgamated into one Government, 


under the name of British Guiana, in 1831, 
and Major-General Sir Benjamin Durban was 
appointed, by that excellent monarch King 
William IV., to be the first Governor and Com- 
mander-in-chief in and over the colony of British 
Guiana, Vice-Admiral and Ordinary of the same. 
These territories, which had been conquered from 
the Dutch, returned to them at the Peace of 
Amiens, reconquered and retained in the sub- 
sequent wars, lie in the equatorial belt of South 
America, and form part of the great territory of 
Guyana. The other divisions of this region belong 
to the Venezuelans, the Dutch, and the French, 
and are called respectively Guyana, Surinam, and 
Cayenne. Surinam once belonged to us, but we 
exchanged it with the Dutch for the flourishing 
settlement of New York. By this bargain we 
thought we had done Mynheer in the eye, but it 
turned out otherwise, as the Dutch still possess 
Surinam, whilst we have lost New York. It is a 
curious fact that when the Spaniards first dis- 
covered Guyana they named two rivers falling 
into the Atlantic Dessequibo and Di Mirari ; one 
of these rivers has lost the D, and the other has 
retained it, so they have become Essequibo and 
Demerary. I give these geographical facts, 
because the position of British Guiana on the 
map of the world is generally unknown in English 
society. During my several furloughs, when I 
have visited my native land, I have been con- 
gratulated by my acquaintances on looking so 
well, despite the climate of Africa, which they 


understood was so insalubrious : and when I told 
one friend, a vicar of the Anglican Church, that 
I had been some time in Demerara, he astonished 
me by saying that he had always been informed 
that Demerara was the richest island in the 
Caribbean Sea. It was no use asserting that 
Guiana was not in Africa, and that Demerara was 
not an island, so I gave it up, and accepted 
meekly my insular and African position. But why 
should we scoff at these good people for their 
ignorance, when an Under- Secretary of State in 
the House of Commons gravely asserted that 
Demerara was an island, and none of his hearers 
in that august assembly could venture offhand to 
contradict him. Since writing the above, the 
dispute with Venezuela and the United States 
over the boundary question, and the establishment 
of gold mines in the north-west district, have made 
the colony better known in Europe. 

It is difficult for us poor travellers to do or 
say what is right; stay-at-home people always 
know so much more about the countries we have 
visited than we do. I remember once indulging 
in some yarns which were swallowed greedily by 
my audience, until I asserted that in Berbice I 
had seen muscovy ducks, which weighed from six 
to eight pounds each, and which roosted and built 
their nests in trees, which statement was received 
with howls of incredulity and derision ; whereas 
it is quite true, and more credible than several 
travellers' stories with which I had regaled them. 
It was the old story over again of the flying fish 


and Pharaoh's chariot wheels. Give a dog a bad 
name and you may as well hang him. Certainly 
this is true of British Guiana. When one men- 
tions Demerara in England, we are gravely in- 
formed that it is impossible for a white man to 
live there for a year; and when I assert that 
I have lived there off and on for twenty-five 
years, I am regarded as an accomplished liar. 
This bad name was acquired in the earlier part 
of the century, when white troops were sent to 
the colony from Halifax and other cold stations, 
when they died in great numbers from yellow 
fever and strong rum. The sanitary arrangements 
of the barracks were defective, in fact, were con- 
spicuous by their absence, the men were grossly 
overcrowded, and the natural results followed. 

There have also been many cases where young 
men coming from England, who neglect the most 
ordinary precautions for the preservation of health 
in a tropical country, have died after a few weeks' 
residence, and the news of this, when carried 
home, has confirmed the prejudice against the 
colony. An English barrister, who had been 
appointed as a stipendiary magistrate in the 
colony, was introduced to me, and he asked me 
whether the climate was as fatal as he had been 
told in England. I said, " No ; your life is quite 
safe if you avoid three or four things. The heat 
and moisture of the climate produce profuse 
perspirations, so be careful never to sit down 
and go to sleep in your damp clothes; don't 
expose yourself to the sun, and for some time be 


careful not to exhaust yourself by over-exertion." 
What was the result ? A fortnight afterwards he 
rode a mule round an estate in the hot sun, then 
played several sets of lawn tennis ; drove home in 
his wet clothes ; on arrival, feeling exhausted, he 
threw himself into a hammock in the open gallery, 
with a cool sea-breeze blowing upon him ; fell 
asleep ; awoke up at midnight in a roasting fever ; 
was dead in forty-eight hours, and buried in ten 
more. This was not an isolated case ; I have 
known the same thing happen over and over 
again. What man in England, who is in his 
senses, would go to sleep in his wet clothes after 
hunting or shooting? Yet people in Demerara 
do what they would never dream of doing in 
England, and then, when they get ill, they abuse 
the climate. 

There is one dreadful consequence of the 
climate which strikes every one, i.e. the necessity 
for almost immediate burial after death. No 
corpse can be retained in a house more than 
twenty hours, and, when the cause of death has 
been yellow fever, almost immediate burial is 
necessary. I have known cases where dissolution 
absolutely began before death, when the ex- 
tremities were black before the breath was out 
of the body. In many cases it has been found 
necessary to wrap the body immediately after 
death in a cotton sheet soaked in carbolic acid, 
prepared beforehand, and thrust it into a coffin, 
and screw it down at once. When Mr. G. died 
suddenly one Sunday afternoon, under somewhat 


suspicious circumstances, although I held an 
inquest a few hours after death, his body was 
actually melting away from his bones. The doctor 
I had summoned refused to make a post-mortem 
examination, as the body was too much decayed ; 
the jury held their nostrils as they viewed the 
body, and we had to adjourn to another house to 
finish the investigation. 

It adds another terror to death when you stand 
by the grave hearing the solemn Burial Service of 
the Church read over the remains of one with 
whom you had been drinking and laughing forty- 
eight hours before. Still it is wonderful how 
callous one becomes. I can remember how, in 
1882, 1 slept at the hotel, having a dead man in 
the room on one side of me, and a dying one on 
the other. Tropical hotels are not like English 
ones everything is open for coolness, so that 
almost every sound can be heard from one room 
to another. The dead man, poor fellow, was quiet 
enough, but poor Blair's groans disturbed me 
sometimes in the night, and I went into his room 
two or three times to see if I could be of any use 
to him; but nothing availed, and he was dead 
before breakfast in the morning. One curious thing 
about yellow fever is that there is often a sort of 
rally after the beginning of the attack, when the 
patient feels quite strong, and insists upon getting 
up and going out. I remember one young man 
who had the fever was reported to be very ill. 
I went to inquire about him, and, to my astonish- 
ment, I was told that he had gone out. Feeling 


better, he had got out of bed, dressed, and started 
off to walk to the sea-wall and back, a distance 
of about two miles. He returned in a state of 
exhaustion, and was dead twenty-four hours after- 
wards. Young Miles got out of his bed and wrote 
a letter to his mother, telling her that she would 
be sorry to hear that he was going to die which 
he did, poor boy, a few hours afterwards. 

I was Sheriff of Essequibo at the beginning of 
the epidemic of 1881, and many young men and 
maidens were sent down thither to be out of 
Georgetown, where the fever was most prevalent. 
So we were very lively on the coast, and had some 
pleasant picnics and dances. I recall vividly one 
picnic on the sandhills behind Johanna Cecilia. 
Young Tengely was one of us a bright young 
fellow, who was amusing us with songs, accom- 
panying himself on the banjo. As we were ex- 
changing farewells after the picnic, Tengely said 
to me, " I must say good-bye to you, Sheriff, as 
I am off to town to-morrow." I urged him not 
to go, as the fever was still serious in town ; but 
he said he must go, there was no danger, he was 
not afraid. Within a week he was dead and 

Some people who went up to Georgetown 
brought the fever down with them to the coast. 
I remember a poor young Scotchman, an overseer 
at Plantation Reliance, who was down with yellow 
fever. I went over to see him with the manager 
of the estate and the district medical officer. The 
doctor was at his wits' end ; the fever was so high 



that the patient's skin seemed absolutely to burn 
your fingers as you touched him. We soaked 
sheets in water and sprinkled them with lime- 
juice, and rolled him up in them ; but they were 
dry and hard almost as soon as put on, the heat 
of his body was so great. All our efforts were 
unavailing, and he died in a few hours. 

Many of the victims of yellow fever turn quite 
dark after death, others a bright orange. I never 
shall forget my horror when I called to inquire 
after the health of a bright, blue-eyed, flaxen- 
haired child, of about eleven years of age, who 
was down with fever. Her father came to the 
door, and, as I asked after the child, he said, 
" Come here." I followed him upstairs into his 
daughter's room, and there was the poor child 
lying dead, her hair cut off, her limbs and face 
black and discoloured. She had died only an 
hour before. 

But don't let any of my readers go away with 
the impression, because such horrors as I have 
described occasionally take place, that British 
Guiana is a white man's grave. Far from it. It 
is true that epidemics of yellow fever occur at 
long intervals, and that there are always a few 
sporadic cases in the colony ; nor can it be denied 
that malarial fever prevails to a very serious 
extent, which, after several attacks, may prove 
fatal. But, on the other hand, the fatal fevers 
of Europe typhoid, typhus, and scarlet are 
almost unknown. I have never known a case of 
small-pox or diphtheria during my residence there. 


The prevailing causes of death are heart disease 
in every form, phthisis and pneumonia, diseases 
of the liver and kidneys, and of course fevers, 
malarial and bilious. During twenty-five years' 
service in the colony I have only once been 
seriously ill, and have always at other times 
enjoyed excellent health. 

In the old days, when white men were few and 
generally without kith or kin in the country, a 
funeral was always attended by all the white 
population, who saw their brother colonist decently 
and honourably buried. When the necessity for 
this attendance had ceased, the custom still 
continued, and now, when any one well known in 
society dies, a notice is sent round and all the 
world goes to the funeral. I have counted a 
hundred private carriages in a funeral cortege. 
Funerals take place at 8 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. If 
you die before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, your funeral 
will be at 8 a.m. on Thursday. If you expire after 
4 p.m. on Thursday, your funeral will be at 4.30 
p.m. the next day, unless, as very often happens, 
a medical man, for sanitary reasons, considers 
that the funeral should take place earlier. 

It used to be the custom to send round funeral 
notices to all the acquaintances of the deceased. 
These printed circulars, edged with black, were 
headed " Memento Mori," and were derived from 
the Dutch, who called them " Doed Briefen." 

Owing to the low-lying land, burials are some- 
times attended with difficulty. When graves are 
dug they frequently become full of water, and 


I have known cases where funerals were delayed 
owing to the necessity of bailing out the water. 
In the cemetery of Le Eepentir, which is the 
principal burying-plaee for Georgetown, most of 
the coffins are placed in a shallow hole, barely 
a foot deep, and are then built over with bricks 
and mortar, and covered with cemented concrete. 
The heat and rain frequently crack this covering 
in a short time, and I have seen coffins exposed 
to view of persons who have only been buried 
a few months before. 

Cremation is much needed in the colony; in 
fact, there is no place where, for sanitary reasons, 
it ought to be more enforced. The present system 
of burial is most detrimental to health in all coun- 
tries, but in Demerara it is absolutely suicidal. It 
/ is, however, a remarkable fact that all vestiges of 
/ the dead are wanting in a few years. In the old 
Bourda cemetery are many family vaults in 
which no one is now allowed to be buried without 
special permission from the Town Council. I have 
known two instances where such burials took place 
when I was present. When the vaults were 
opened, in one case the inside was absolutely 
empty, although a person had been buried there 
within the memory of many persons then present ; 
in the other, which had held two coffins, two or 
three well-polished bones were in one corner and 
nothing else. Damp, ants, rats, and land crabs 
must be accountable for the disappearance of 
body, coffin, and everything, not even the metal 
fittings of the coffins being found. 


Another dreadful and disgusting feature in 
West Indian life is in the number of lepers which 
exist. Despite the dictum of the College of 
Physicians, we, who have lived with lepers in 
our midst, are fully satisfied that leprosy is 
contagious under certain circumstances ; so efforts 
are made in a perfunctory way by the Government 
to isolate the lepers from the rest of the com- 
munity. But the laws on the subject are very 
insufficiently carried out; numbers of lepers are 
seen abroad in the streets ; and, although there 
are leper asylums for men and women, they are 
not prevented from strolling into the neighbouring 
roads and villages. Nothing can exceed the 
horror caused by a visit to these asylums: I 
used to feel sick for days afterwards. In old 
days, the lepers were isolated and kept on an 
island in the Massaruni Eiver called Kaow Island, 
below the penal settlement, where they were 
attended by the surgeon of that institution. 
Divine service was held every Sunday on the 
island in a small church provided for the purpose, 
the chaplain of the settlement being the officiating 
priest. For some reason or another it was decided 
to move the lepers to the main land, and a party 
of police were sent up to see to their deportation 
and to destroy their settlement, to prevent people 
from squatting there and so becoming infected 
with leprosy. I accompanied the Inspector of 
police who commanded the detachment, and felt 
as if I were committing sacrilege when I helped 
to set fire to the building, where for so many years 


the services and the sacraments of the Church 
had been held and administered. 

Perhaps there is no country in the world which, 
for its size and population, has so many hospitals 
as British Guiana. Besides large public hospitals 
in each of the three counties of Essequibo, 
Demerara, and Berbice, there is a hospital on 
every sugar estate (about a hundred in number), 
each making up from twenty-five to one hundred 
beds, according to the size of the plantation and 
the number of Indian immigrants indentured 
to the estate. Each hospital is placed under a 
qualified dispenser and nurses, and is visited 
three or four times a week by the district medical 

The colonial hospital in Georgetown is one of 
the largest in the colonies, making up as it does 
more than eight hundred beds. The deaths, alas ! 
are also very numerous. I have been in the 
mortuary when there were five corpses awaiting 
interment, and we had to turn them all over and 
examine them so as to identify one over which I 
thought it necessary to hold an inquest. 


A thirsty country Swizzles Georgetown Club Visits of the fleet 
Swizzleiana Pepper-pot Miss Gerty's kitten Planters Mr. Henry 
Clementson His burglary Medical Service Old-time doctors 
The Bar Dick Whitfield Lynch Samuel T. Fitz-Herbert Maca- 
ronic verses Church endowments Cake walks Rally of the tribes 
Ladies in British Guiana Sexual relations Establishments 
Children of the poor Quasi-slavery Roman Dutch law Emanci- 
pation of women Tigress of Tiger Bay Tim Sugar Assaulting the 

THERE is great truth in the soldier's remark that 
Demerara was a " rare place where there's lots of 
drink, and you're always 'a dry." The perpetual 
state of perspiration in which one lives in the 
colony creates a perpetual thirst, and I know no 
place where drinking is carried out on more scien- 
tific principles. The drink, sui generis, of the 
country is the swizzle. This subtle and delicious 
compound is sometimes ignominiously confounded 
with the cocktail, but though related, they are not 
identical. The cocktail is a stronger, shorter, and 
less sophisticated drink than the swizzle ; there 
is no disguise about it ; you know you are drinking 
something hot and strong, thinly disguised by the 
ice which cools without quenching its potency. 
But in the swizzle the potency is so skilfully 


veiled that the unsuspecting imbiber never dis- 
covers he is taking anything stronger than milk, 
until he finds that his head is going round, and 
that the road seems to be rising up and trying to 
slap him in the face. 

The ingredients of a swizzle are simple enough ; 
a small glass of hollands, ditto of water, half a 
teaspoonful of Angostura bitters, a small quantity 
of syrup or powdered white sugar, with crushed 
ice ad libitum ; this concoction is whipped up by 
a swizzle-stick twirled rapidly between the palms 
of the hands until the ice is melted, and the liquid 
is like foaming pink cream, to be swallowed at one 
draught and repeated quantum suff. This seems 
simple enough, but it is only one person in a 
hundred who can make a perfect swizzle ; there 
must be a purity in the materials, an exactitude 
in the proportions, and a faculty for handling the 
swizzle-stick, which can only be acquired by long 
study and devoted attention. 

The swizzle-stick is cut in the forests from a 
small bush, which grows so that the shoots all 
radiate from a common centre ; so that when cut 
and trimmed to a proper length, you have a stick 
about fourteen inches long, as thick as a pen- 
handle, with four or five short spurs about an inch 
long radiating from the end. These shrubs gene- 
rally grow in sandy places, and are numerous 
enough, as an old colonist remarked one day when 
he and I were cutting swizzle-sticks, " See how 
good Providence is to provide us with swizzle- 
sticks in this thirsty country!" Whisky or 


brandy may be used instead of Hollands for 
swizzles, according to the taste of the drinker. A 
swizzle is generally taken before breakfast and 
dinner ; but pray remember that we get up at six 
o'clock, and work hard till ten, when we breakfast, 
and it is really not only a pleasant but a whole- 
some beverage. In Georgetown the sound of the 
swizzle-stick is heard all day; it is one of the 
common objects of the country, like those plagues 
the frogs and mosquitoes. There is no wrong 
without a remedy, and the soothing swizzle makes 
you forget the one and despise the other. The 
Georgetown Club is the headquarters of the perfect 
swizzle. This club, which was founded in 1858, 
has obtained a world- wide renown for hospitality 
and good cheer. There is an unwritten law in 
the club that no one shall drink alone, so the 
unwary stranger, who is admitted within its sacred 
portals, finds himself invited to drink by thirty or 
forty gentlemen on hospitality intent, and not 
washing to appear rude and disobliging by refusing, 
finds himself by eventide very much mixed, and 
wondering how he is to find his way to his 
virtuous couch. Always hospitable to strangers, 
the Georgetown Club puts forth its full force when 
the colony is honoured by a visit from some of the 
ships of Her Majesty's navy. All the officers of 
the fleet are made honorary members; all their 
drinks are paid for; luncheons and dinners are 
provided for them ; they can play billiards and 
cards all day and night free of charge. It is a 
perfect heaven for midshipmen and lieutenants. 


In fact, the whole colony goes mad when the fleet 
visits its shores, and spends money recklessly in 
balls and fetes, so that it becomes necessary to 
send round a picket of police every night to pull 
the midshipmen out of the canals which bisect 
all the streets. The big ships could never come 
nearer than fifteen miles from the city owing to 
the shoal-water, so that the naval officers were 
not able to show much return for our hospitality ; 
but that was not what we wanted ; we were only 
too glad to see them. However, the officers felt 
otherwise, and a handsome chiming-clock and a 
great silver punch-bowl, now in the Georgetown 
Club, testify to the gratitude of the sailors who, 
at different times, have enjoyed our welcome. 

The swizzle has inspired our local poets to 
celebrate its fame in doggerel verse. One gentle- 
man invokes his favourite drink as a goddess under 
the name of Swizzleiana : 

" When the rosy morn is breaking 

And the moon pales in the west, 
Then I call for thee, my darling, 

Waiting, longing to be blest. 
Swizzleiana ! bewitching maiden ! 

Let me kiss thy rosy lips. 

" When the noontide heat is glowing, 

And I dally in the shade, 
Then to calm my pulses throbbing, 

Sweet ! I call thee to mine aid. 
Swizzleiana ! bewitching maiden ! 

Cool my burning lips with thine. 

" When the sun is quickly sinking, 

And the toil of life is o'er, 
Then I hear thy gentle sighing, 
And I call for thee once more. 


Swizzleiana ! bewitching maiden ! 
Quench my troubles with thy kiss. 

u Rosy, sweet, and cool and creaming, 
Who with thee can e'er compare ? 
Eve, and noon, and dewy morning 
Thou must come to me, my fair. 
Swizzleiana ! bewitching maiden ! 
Let me ever call thee mine ! " 

H. K. 

My old friend Benson Maxwell, a son of the 
Sir Benson Maxwell, Chief Justice of the Straits 
Settlements, had evidently read Longfellow, for 
he published a parody on a well-known poem, 
as follows : 

" I know a mixture fair to see 

Take care ! 
It can both sweet and bitter be 

Beware ! beware ! 
Trust it not. 
It is fooling thee. 

" It has two blends of great renown 

Take care ! 
It gives new life as it goes down 

Beware ! etc. 

" It has a crown of pearly hue 

Take care ! 
It looks a tempting, harmless brew 

Beware! etc-. 

" It has a charm to lull your pain 

Take care ! 
It bids you come, and come again 

Beware ! etc. 

" It gives a fillip of delight- 
Take care ! 
It has a power to make you tight 

Beware ! " etc., etc. 


What the swizzle is to the drinking world, the 
pepper-pot is to the eating. This renowned dish 
is not so generally used as was formerly the case, 
but it is still respected in odd nooks and corners of 
the colony, where it is kept going from year to 
year without ever once getting empty; meat of 
any kind being added to it day by day, cassareep 
as required, and peppers and black sugar according 
to taste. In one country household, not long ago, 
a particular pepper-pot was never absent from the 
breakfast-table, and the host prided himself on its 
antiquity, which was frequently the theme of con- 
versation when an honoured guest was being 
entertained. One day he was explaining to an 
English traveller that it was the only really cha- 
racteristic dish in the colony; it was like the 
pot-au-feu in France ; it was the curry of the 
West Indies ; it was the receptacle of every kind 
of meat, wild and tame, even to monkeys. " And, 
I assure you," he said, "they are splendid in the 
pot as good as labba. In fact, it is the house- 
keeper's blessing, and always a change at the 
breakfast-table, for you don't know what the spoon 
will bring up, wild or tame, ox or pig. For 
instance, what is this ? " 

Here the host placed on his plate an unshapely, 
bedraggled-looking mass, which he, with all his 
experience of the pepper-pot, could not classify. 

" John " (to the butler), " what is this ? " 

John looked at it for a moment, and then 

"Well done! Sah, if that ain't Miss Gerty's 


kitten ! It must have fallen in and drowded ; and 
Miss Gerty and the rnissy blaming me because he 
didn't dey. Oh, me lard, sah, I is well glad 
that kitten is found at las ! " 

The number of white persons in the colony was 
very small in comparison with the rest of the 
population, numbering only about sixteen thousand, 
three-fourths of whom were Portuguese from 
Madeira and the Azores. Children born in the 
colony of white parents are called Creoles; but 
the name Creole is, in common parlance, indis- 
criminately and incorrectly used for all colony bred 
persons and animals. Black and coloured children 
are called Creoles, and we hear of Creole horses 
and Creole sheep. 

Thirty years ago the planters were the great 
men in the colony ; they were autocrats on their 
own estates, and for miles around; they were 
J.P.'s, and sat on the bench with the judge at the 
Inferior Criminal Courts ; they were described in 
the Official Gazette as "gentlemen in charge of 
sugar estates," and, to Sir Henry des Voeux's 
indignation, they took precedence of stipendiary 
magistrates; storekeepers bowed down before them, 
and bankers did them reverence. But that was all 
changed before I left the colony the old style of 
manager had disappeared. Most of the old planters 
were men of grand physique and great strength of 
character, with much ability and perseverance, 
but they were ill-educated and prejudiced, rough- 
mannered men who had been nurtured in the evil 
days of slavery. Some of the younger generation 


were still powers in the land when I first went out, 
and several of them were good friends of mine. 
Mr. Edmund Field, of plantation Great Diamond, 
brother of Lord Justice Field; the Honourable 
William Eussell, the " Sugar King/' as he was 
called; and Mr. A. C. Macalman, were men of 
superior intelligence and social standing. One 
old planter, Mr. Henry Clementson, proprietor of 
Cuming's Lodge, was an eccentric man. I often 
went to his estate to spend Sunday with him. One 
afternoon we were smoking in his gallery, when we 
saw a waggon with a runaway horse dash along the 
road and upset just in front of Clernentson's drive ; 
one of its occupants was thrown out with violence, 
and lay on his back without moving. I started up, 
and was hurrying to his assistance, when Clement- 
son called out, "Where are you going?" "To 
help that poor man ; he may be killed.'' " Then 
what the devil does he mean by coming and 
dying on my road!" At one time Clementson 
kept a store in Water Street, Georgetown; and, 
as the fashion then was, he slept over his shop. 
One night he was awakened by a noise in his 
room, and, looking up, he saw a black man, almost 
naked, turning over the things on his dressing- 
table and opening his drawers. Clementson noise- 
lessly slipped out of bed and made for the thief, 
who, hearing a sound, turned round, and seeing 
Clementson, who was a big man, and looked his 
biggest in his loose pyjamas, coming towards him, 
made for the door ; but Clementson was too quick 
for him, and, as the thief passed into the landing, 


jumped upon his back, and, putting his arms tight 
round his neck, was carried by the man headlong 
down the staircase into the street, where he 
tumbled, sprawling and yelling, into the gutter, 
Clementson still riding him like the old man of 
the sea. 

The police were attracted to the spot by the 
noise, and the burglar was safely lodged in gaol. 
He was tried at the next sessions, and was sen- 
tenced to penal servitude at Massaruni for five 
years. About four years or so afterwards Cle- 
mentson was sitting in his counting-house, when 
a big, burly nigger came in grinning and touching 
his wool. "Well," said Clementson, "what do 
you want ? " " You no know me, sah ? " " No, 
I don't." " Hi ! me Gad ! and yourself de same 
gentleman me carry on me back down into de 
street, and yourself too heavy for true." " Oh, 
it's you, you villain, is it?" shouted Clementson. 
" Get out of this at once." " Hi, Massa Clement- 
son, gie me bit o' work now." But Clementson 
refused to have anything to do with him, so he 
went away grumbling at the ingratitude of 

Of professional men the doctors were the most 
numerous, as might be expected. British Guiana 
is an ideal country for medical men. According 
to the Blue Book for 1895, which is lying before 
me, there were forty-six medical men in the 
Government service, one of whom drew ,1100 as 
pay ; another, 1000 ; eleven received 900 ; five, 
800 ; seven, 700 ; six, 525 ; six, .500 ; two, 


450 ; two, 425 ; two, 400 ; and three, 300 per 
annum. And all whose salaries were under 900 
received every year an increment to their salary 
of 25 until they reached that desirable result. 
In addition, each district medical officer drew 
100 a year travelling allowance, and enjoyed 
private practice, which was, in some cases, very 
lucrative. In Georgetown one well-known and 
popular medico has for many years made more 
than 3000 per annum in addition to his official 
pay. There were also about half a dozen medical 
men who were not in the Government service, 
so I think we were well provided with medical 
attendance, considering that the whole population 
of the colony was only about 280,000 souls. 

But although we may grumble at the cost, it 
must be confessed that the service is a credit to 
the Colony, and the members of it are, with few 
exceptions, highly trained, competent men. The 
old type of doctors has quite died out, the believer 
in calomel and quinine the old twenty and twenty- 
four dose, as it was called. I heard an anecdote 
of one of .the old-time medicos. A Scotch youth 
had yellow fever, and a Scotch doctor was sent 
for to prescribe for him. 

" I shall dee, I shall dee ! " cried the poor boy. 

" Dee and be d d ! " said the doctor ; " but 

you shall take sixty grains of calomel first." 

The Bar in British Guiana, like most colonies, 
was composed of a very mixed lot of men. There 
were white, black, and coloured ; some old Oxford 
or Cambridge men ; others the grandsons of old 


slaves, who, by perseverance and energy, had 
raised themselves to the dignity of " esquires, 
barristers-at-law." Several of the barristers were 
men who had failed in other pursuits, and, having 
the gift of the gab, had been called to the Bar 
in England, and returned to make what they could 
in the land of their adoption. One of the best 
and most amusing of these was Dick Whitfield, 
who had formerly been a dry-goods merchant ; but 
failing in that interesting occupation, and being a 
voluble Irishman, he turned his thoughts to the 
law, and after an absence in England of a couple 
of years, returned a full-fledged barrister. Dick 
was an eloquent man, and would have succeeded 
very well at the Bar had he not been addicted 
to too much joviality, so that he got rather 
muddled in his head, and was sometimes not quite 
sure what he was talking about. 

On one occasion I was presiding over a trial 
in Georgetown where the prisoner was accused 
of murder, and, as the custom was, Dick Whitfield 
had been assigned as his counsel. The case was 
a clear and simple one, and I was rather curious 
to hear what the learned counsel could say in 
defence. He called no witnesses, but proceeded 
to address the jury. " May it please your honour, 
gentlemen of the jury, when God planted Adam 
and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they lived a life of 
blissful innocence and happiness. Joy was theirs, 
the fruits of the earth were their food, the limpid 
streams their only drink ; they knew neither care 
nor sorrow. But, alas ! the devil entered in ; the 



tempter was there, " and so on, for some ten 
minutes. I interposed, " Beally, Mr. Whitfield, 
I cannot see what this has to do with the case. 
You must come to the point." " I am coming 
to the point, your honour." However, he still 
went on with his biblical narrative ; but when he 
had got as far as Noah's Ark, I again interrupted 
him. " Eeally, Mr. Whitfield, I cannot allow you 
to waste the time of the court in this way. Con- 
fine yourself to the case." But it was no use, 
he went on rambling over all kinds of subjects, 
sacred and profane, until he wound up abruptly 
by an impassioned appeal to the jury not to send 
the unfortunate man in the dock to a violent 
death, drew an affecting picture of the man's 
weeping widow and wailing children (there was 
no evidence that the prisoner had any children, 
and he was being tried for murdering his wife), 
and ended by a commonplace peroration, imploring 
the jury to remember the sanctity of their oaths 
and not condemn an innocent man. All his 
eloquence was of no avail. The man was con- 
victed, sentenced by me to death, and was hanged 
in due course of law. 

On another occasion, in the old Court rooms 
in the Public Buildings, I was presiding in the 
first court, when our proceedings were more or 
less interrupted by the great noise which some 
one was making in the precincts of the adjoining 
court. "Marshal," I said, "who is making that 
noise? Tell him to be quiet." The marshal 
returned, but the noise continued. " Marshal, 


make that man be quiet or bring him before me, 
and I will commit him." The marshal retired 
again, and came back alone. When I glared at 
him, he replied with a covert smile, " Please, 
your honour, the noise is caused by Mr. Whitfield 
addressing the jury in the other court." It was 
Dick's burning eloquence that was raising all the 
echoes in the old Public Buildings. 

Once in Berbice, at the Criminal Sessions, 
the Supreme Court was opened with the usual 
ceremonies. I was on the Bench ; there were two 
or three barristers at the Bar, amongst them 
Whitfield, who had a very boiled look about his 
eyes. A prisoner was arraigned, and, as soon as 
the clerk of the court had read the indictment, 
Dick arose, and said, " I wish your honour to take 
an exception to this indictment." "Very well, 
Mr. Whitfield," said I; "now is the time to do 
so." Whitfield then began some rambling remarks 
which I didn't follow ; so, after a few minutes, 
I remarked, " I don't follow you, Mr. Whitfield." 
" I was saying, your honour," and so on, as before. 
"I really cannot follow you, Mr. Whitfield." 
"Perhaps your honour would allow me to see the 
indictment." " Certainly," said I. The document 
was handed to him. After gazing at it for some 
time, " I beg your honour's pardon," he said, 
handing back the parchment to the clerk, " I 
thought it was the other man," and sat down 
amidst a general tittering in the court. He had 
mistaken the case for one in which he was 
engaged. During the same session, however, 


Dick scored one off us. He was defending a 
prisoner, and one of the principal witnesses for 
the defence, who had heen examined before the 
committing magistrate, and whose deposition was 
before me, was never called by Whitfield, and, as 
the Attorney- General had expected to extract some 
information from this witness in cross-examination, 
it was natural and right that, in his reply to the 
jury, he should comment upon the fact that this 
witness had not been called for the defence. Dick 
sat tight and said nothing. When, in my turn, I 
proceeded to sum up the case to the jury, I also, 
in reviewing the evidence, commented upon the 
fact that the principal witness for the defence had 
not been called, and remarked that the Attorney- 
General's strictures on his absence were well 
merited. Then Whitfield arose, " I beg your 
honour's pardon for interrupting you, but perhaps 
I had better explain why the witness in question 
was not called ; because he is beyond your 
honour's jurisdiction he is dead." And he sat 
down with a placid smile on his countenance, 
which was reflected in the faces of the jury. 

Another time when I was sitting in Chambers 
in the first week in the year and proceeding to 
transact business, Whitfield burst into the room, 
and seizing one of my hands, exclaimed, " A happy 
new year to your honour ! God bless you ! Don't 
you wish we were all back in old England." Judge 
and Bar were much astonished at this outburst. 

Mr. Lynch, the elder, was a barrister, who for 
mnny years filled a large space in the eye of the 


public, both literally and metaphorically. He was 
a large and powerful negro with a soft voice and 
pleasant manners. He was very successful in 
defending prisoners, and was an adept at bullying 
witnesses and extorting admissions in good Old 
Bailey style. The late Mr. William Eussell once 
described him as " a good shovelman spoiled," 
which came to Lynch's ears, and which he never 
forgot. Once Eussell had a lawsuit, and his 
adversary having briefed the leading members of 
the Bar, Eussell was advised to go to Lynch. 
When Eussell went to that gentleman's office and 
explained his errand, he was met with the remark, 
" So you have been compelled to come to the 
spoiled shovelman after all." 

In 1872 Mr. J. Trounsell Gilbert was Attorney- 
General of the colony. Mr. William Haynes 
Smith (afterwards Sir W. Haynes Smith, K.C.M.G., 
Governor of the Leeward Islands) was Solicitor- 
General. Mr. Gilbert soon afterwards died, when 
Mr. Smith became Attorney-General, and Mr. 
Atkinson (the present Mr. Justice Atkinson) 
Solicitor-General. My greatest chum at that time 
was Samuel T. Fitz-Herbert, a Cambridge graduate, 
and a barrister who was practising in Georgetown. 
He was a bright, clever little man, fond of his 
rubber, game of billiards, and cheery glass. He 
was a gentleman, and at that time the manners 
and customs of the Bar in Georgetown were not to 
his taste. Touting and all kinds of unprofessional 
conduct were rampant, and he could not descend 
to such practices ; so he found himself somewhat 


isolated, and the ground cut from under his feet. 
He did not stay long in the colony, but exchanged 
it for the more congenial soil of New Zealand, 
where he married and prospered. Fits-Herbert 
had a great facility for writing verses, humorous 
or macaronic, parodies, and such like. When we 
were separated, I used to receive from him comical 
letters in rhyme, one or two of which are worth 
repeating. For example, take the following 
sapphics, parody of the celebrated needy knife- 
grinder of Canning and Frere : 

" Lazy H. Kirke, whatever are you doing ? 

Why are you not here, toiling at the great work, 
Which shall exalt its editors as heroes 

Of immigration ? 

" Say, does the fragrant weed nicotiana, 

Stowed in a shapely calumet of meerschaum, 
Not without Bass his amber-beaded nectar, 

Woo thee to leisure ? 

" No such excuse have you, you lazy beggar, 

Saving that mentioned in the second stanza ; 
Snug in armchair methinks I see thee lying, 

Lazily dreaming. 

" Are you at leisure meditating coolie 

Cases, which may be brought before your washup 
When on next Monday you sit as a great sti- 
pendiary Justice ? 

" Hang round the doorway Asiatic suitors ; 
Lie on the table summonses neglected ; 
Flutter notes not decipherable by your 

Own coadjutor. 

" Lazy, unfeeling, swizzle-loving justice ! 

Shameless, work-shrinking, putter-off of duty, 
I have a crow to pick with you, your washup, 

Over a cocktail. 

S T "E 1 
11 May, 1873." 


There is a genuine ring about these verses. 
Another amusing parody was sent to me from 
Suddie, whither Fitz-Herbert had gone to defend 
a prisoner at the Essequibo Criminal Sessions : 

" From Suddie's sea- washed station, 

Aurora's sandy plain, 
Where groweth each plantation, 

Th' almighty sugar-cane : 
Down Essequibo river, 

By water, mule and mail, 
Come jurors to deliver 

The prisoners from the jail. 

" What though with misplaced kindness, 

The Governor allows 
The coolie in his blindness 

To chop his erring spouse : 
What though the daring nigger 

Still steals the straying goat, 
Yet still we'll make him rigger 

In light grey prison coat. 

" In vain with native rudeness 

Both Carbery and Lynch, 
And Atkinson, with shrewdness-, 

Would make the jurors flinch. 
Shall we who clothe in linen 

And wash ourselves with soap, 
Shall we to coolies sinning 

Deny the hempen rope ? 

" Assizes! oh, Assizes! 

The awful sound proclaim ! 
Till coolies and their wiveses 

Shall tremble at its name. 
Teh 1 , telegraph, the story, 

The credit and renown, 
Till spreads the jurors' glory 

From Suddie to Georgetown ; 

" Till o'er the peaceful native 
A blessed quiet reigns, 


Till he's a thing creative 

Of sugar from the canes. 
Till happy immigration 

Be freed from every toil, 
And minus legislation, 

Each vacuum pan shall boil." 

" Hsec tibi mittebam calamo currente magister. 

Fausta satis sedes ipse magis Valeo. 
Me tamen expectas aderit quum tertia Luna ; 
Nil mihi rescribas sum rediturus enim." 

I was living at the Thomas House, near 
Georgetown, and the night before the Durban 
race meeting I had asked Fitz-Herbert to dine 
with me. He was unfortunately laid up with a 
small wound caused by some poisonous insect, and 
Dr. Cameron would not allow him to walk. So 
he sent me the following absurd verses : 

Damnatse noctes, multo damnatius iste 

Kwvuiros penno? mussat in aure sonus. 
Heu ! Thomasina domus quam longa est semita, quantum 

Vulneris inviti per mea membra dabas ! 
Testator Cameron per honorem Pharmacopolae 

Ut nimis hesterno vespere gressus erim. 
In pede vulnus inest, distillat vulnere virus, 

Et mea per sellas forma supina cubat. 
Necnon crass metuo ludos ut cernere possim 

Quum quatitur sonitu quadrupedante solum. 
TerAa0i /cpoSiT?, nam sic cecinere poetce 

Si tu faustus eris quod tibi sunt numeri ? 
In festus sperat vice versa et co3tera (Flaccus). 

Sic veteri calamo vtKonrjv meditor, 
Sic inter risus sic inter pocula Bassi, 

Haec temere e thalamo carmina condiderim. 
At Carolus (sacer iste puer) mihi nuntiat Indos 

Usum grandiloquae legis habere meoe. 
Jamque Vale ! feror umbrella circumdatus alba. 

Sacra tibi et sponsce proxima pocula erunt. 
Ant. XV. Kal. Ap. et pridie ludos Romanos. 


I remember on one occasion trying a case in 
the Supreme Court (limited jurisdiction) in which 
the defendant was called Jonas. The learned 
barrister, who appeared for him, had an unfortunate 
habit of bullying his own witnesses, if they did 
not say exactly what he wanted them to say ; so 
he used to attack them with, " My dear man, do 
attend to me ! " " My good fellow, if you cannot 
speak up I must abandon your case ! " " That was 
not what you told me in my chambers, 7 ' etc. In 
this case, as the defendant Jonas was rather 
obscure in his answers, counsel became exasperated, 
and shouted out, " My good man Jonas, do come 
out of that whale's belly of yours, and answer the 
questions properly!" This was too much both 
for the court and Jonas the former became 
hilarious, and the latter irascible. 

There being no circuits nor benchers in the 
colony, practices which would be looked upon with 
abhorrence by English barristers were continu- 
ally common amongst members of the local Bar. 
Advertising and touting were not unknown. Any 
fees were accepted. One coloured barrister is said 
to have defended a prisoner before a magistrate, his 
honorarium being a box of sardines. This may be 
an exaggeration, but I know that two dollars were 
often accepted as a fee in such cases. There 
was little or no distinction between barrister and 
solicitor, except that barristers and advocates had 
the sole right of audience in the supreme civil 
and criminal courts sitting in their full jurisdic- 
tion. There were, however, many lawyers who 


upheld the dignity of their profession, and never 
condescended to low practices. 

Few things in Great Britain have occasioned 
more disputes and jealousies than the rich endow- 
ments of the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches. 
They have stirred up the bile of all the numerous 
Nonconforming sects throughout the country. 
Our predecessors in British Guiana were endowed 
with wisdom enough to see this; so, to prevent 
such squabbles, and to induce the different 
religious sects to live in harmony, they, instead 
of discountenancing endowment, went into the 
I other extreme and endowed them all. The 
) Anglican, Presbyterian, Eoman Catholic, and 
Wesleyan Churches were all well endowed by the 
; State, and even the stubborn Congregationalist is 
not too proud to accept an occasional grant from 
the Government for his Church and missions. 
Churches not receiving State aid are often hard 
pressed to find the sinews of war. Theirs is a 
hard fight, and their ministers deserve the highest 
credit for their efforts to maintain their position 
among Christian sects. They are compelled to 
consult every sentiment and weakness of their 
flocks to attain their ends ; jealousy, emulation, 
love of dress and display, are all appealed to, 
and not in vain. Cake walks, pink teas, "rallies 
of the tribes," are resorted to to raise money. 
Some of these performances seem childish and 
even sometimes ludicrous, but I suppose they 
attain their object, and the end justifies the 


A cake walk is conducted as follows. All the 
members of a congregation are invited to subscribe 
and take tickets, costing a bitt, or a bitt and a 
half, or a shilling each. Several cakes are baked 
cake-making being a specialty amongst the 
coloured folk and on an appointed evening all 
the subscribers flock to the chapel or schoolroom 
in their best clothes. The organist takes his seat 
at the harmonium or piano at the end of the 
room, with his back to the guests. The sub- 
scribers form a procession, two and two, and we 
may be sure that lovers, engaged couples, and 
mutual admirers manage to get together. A small 
flag is then handed to the leader, the music strikes 
up, and the subscribers march round the room in 
time, singing as they go ; the flag is handed from 
one couple to the next at each verse of the hymn 
or song, and so travels down the line until the 
music suddenly stops, when the couple in whose 
possession the flag is found are declared winners 
of a cake ; and so it goes on till the cakes and 
the guests are exhausted. 

A "rally of the tribes" is a more complicated 
business. There are twelve tribes of Israel, each 
commanded by a captain and lieutenant. The 
numbers of each tribe are unlimited, and may 
consist of as many persons as can be persuaded 
to enlist. A card is given to each member for 
collecting subscriptions. Bitts, sixpences, and 
shillings are collected, which are represented on 
the cards by dots, circles, and stars respectively. 
The rally is held in the church, and each tribe 


has to hold a stall, decorated with palms and 
flowers, for the accommodation of its members. 
On the Sunday when the rally is held all the 
people assemble at an appointed place, each person 
wearing a band with the name and colour of his 
tribe, the captains' bands being more conspicuous 
than the others. When properly marshalled under 
their respective banners, all the tribes march in 
procession to the church, singing, " Onward, Chris- 
tian soldiers, 7 ' and perambulate the sacred edifice 
before entering, after which the usual Sunday 
service proceeds, each tribe occupying its own 
stall. There are three services in the day, and 
after each service four of the tribes report. The 
minister calls each tribe by name, which under 
its captain marches to the Communion rails. The 
captain, in a loud voice, announces that the tribe 
of Gad, or whatever tribe it may be, is prepared 
to report. "Report;, then,' 7 replies the minister. 
The captain then reads out the subscription col- 
lected by his tribe. After the four tribes have 
reported, the procession is reformed and marches 
out of the church to the rendezvous, and there dis- 
perses. The rally is the most successful mode of 
raising money ; sometimes hundreds of dollars are 
collected. As in European countries, the women 
are the chief supporters of the ministers, and what 
with their rallies, pink teas, jealousy Sundays, cake 
walks, Christmas trees, and blue-paper collections, 
raise a considerable sum of money annually for 
the services of their Church. 

I cannot leave this part of my subject without 


saying something about the fair sex, the ladies 
of British Guiana; but here I feel that I am 
treading on delicate ground. The relation between 
the sexes in young communities or in slavery- 
tainted colonies is not so well regulated as in 
older and more advanced civilizations. Mrs. 
Grundy did not thrive in British Guiana as in 
more temperate climes. Perhaps the damp, warm 
climate was relaxing to the moral as well as the 
physical fibre of the community. As this book 
is not written " for men only," I shall have to 
omit many interesting and peculiar incidents of 
life in the colony, although I am told that the 
New Woman is only too glad to hear and discuss 
the most unsavoury sexual details. In the earlier 
part of the century there were few white women 
in the colony, so it was customary for the managers 
of estates, merchants, and other white men, to 
have what was called an establishment, presided 
over by a black or coloured woman, who looked 
after the servants and the comfort of her master 

The offspring of this connection were, as a 
rule, kindly treated by their father, who brought 
them up, sent them to Scotland or England to be 
educated, and of such are most of the coloured 
doctors, barristers, etc., whom we have in our 
midst. By degrees, as ladies began to accompany 
their husbands to the colony, and communication 
with England became more frequent and more 
rapid, and when men went home to get married, 
and a regular English society was forming itself, 


these establishments began to be regarded with 
disfavour, and, as the cause of them was removed, 
they gradually disappeared. The objection to the 
negro taint, the " touch of the tar-brush" as it 
is locally called, is not so strong as in America 
and some of the West Indian islands. Several 
white men have married quadroon women, who 
are now holding a high position in local society. 
English women seem to stand the climate better 
than men. It is true that they lose their roses 
and become pale, and some of them suffer from 
debility and anaemia ; but the death rate amongst 
them is not half that of men, and they very rarely 
succumb to yellow fever. This maybe owing to 
their more temperate lives, and their freedom from 
exposure and fatigue. 

With regard to the sexual morality of the lower 
classes of the community, it may be gathered from 
these pages when I come to deal with the different 
races which compose it. The standard is very 
low a but outward decency is regarded, and a lady 
can walk about the streets of Georgetown at any 
hour of the day or night without seeing any of 
those external symptoms of vice which disgrace 
so many English cities. One of the saddest 
features of the colony is the condition of the 
children of the poor. There seems to be a spirit 
of lawlessness amongst them, an impatience of 
control, a thirst for independence and license 
which bodes ill for their future and the future of 
the colony. The boys are idle and dissolute, the 
girls dirty, foul-mouthed, and dishonest. At an 


age so early as to be almost incredible, many of 
the former become thieves, and the latter pros- 
titutes. This state of things is owing in a large 
degree to the casual connections which are made 
between the sexes, the offspring of which are 
generally abandoned by the father and neglected 
by the mother, so that they either die or grow up 
as I have described. The infant mortality in the 
colony is frightful, and often called forth the 
stringent remarks of the late Dr. Manget when 
he was Surgeon-General of the colony. There is 
a curious kind of quasi-slavery existing. Every 
black and coloured woman in the country, except 
the very poorest, has always some girl in her 
possession whom she, as she describes it, " cares 
for;' 7 that is, the child works for her all day, 
sweeps, goes errands, and performs all menial 
offices, in return for which she gets blows and 
curses, no pay, a pittance of food, a cotton frock, 
and a pair of drawers, and the bare floor to sleep 
upon. These girls have been given up by their 
mothers, who found them an incumbrance, or who 
were too poor to support them. Of course, when 
the unfortunate girls reach the age of thirteen or 
fourteen they are sold to some Portuguese shop- 
keeper by their mistress, or else, anticipating 
matters, they each choose a boy for themselves 
and go off with him. 

The Eoman Dutch Law, which is the common 
law of the colony, must be held responsible for 
some of the irregular connections entered into 
by the more respectable black and coloured 


people. By the subsequent marriage of their 
parents, children born before wedlock are legiti- 
mized; so many respectable girls become con- 
cubines to men and live with them for years, 
being wives in all but name, in the hope and 
expectation that their keepers will marry them 
eventually, and place them and their children in 
a legitimate position. Such being the law, the 
concubine, so long as she lives with a bachelor, 
has a recognized status, and is not an object of 
reproach as in other countries. 

At a wedding party in Berbice, when the 
health of the bride and bridegroom had been 
warmly drunk, the fond bridegroom rushed into 
a bedroom, brought out a fine two-year-old boy, 
placed him on the festal table, and said, " Isn't 
he a beauty our only son, and he is two years 
old to-day?" 

In the colony, the women are quite emancipated 
and act independently ; if one man vexes them or 
ill-uses them they leave him and go to another. 
The black women are quite as strong as the 
men ; taking the average, I should say they were 
stronger, and quite ready for a fight at any time. 
I remember one woman who was called the Tigress 
of Tiger Bay (a low locality in the city) ; she was 
a match for any three policemen, and was a terror 
to the neighbourhood. 

Another woman, who went by the soubriquet of 
Tim Sugar, was a rival of Jane Cakebread, as she 
had been in prison more than fifty times. When- 
ever she was released she always celebrated the 


event by getting drunk, stripping off her clothes, 
and in her nudity dancing a wild can-can on the 

I was once a cause of merriment to my friends 
by an adventure which happened to me, and 
which was thus described in a local newspaper : 

" ASSAULTING THE SHEEIFF. At the close of the 
performance in the Philharmonic Hall, while the 
audience were wending homewards, several officers 
of the fleet amongst them, a young lady, disposed 
to be friendly to the visitors, gave a staid, dignified- 
looking swell a ringing slap on a stoutish part of 
his body, and called out in complimentary glee, 
'Hi! here's a real nice fat one.' She thought 
she was doing honour to the Queen's navy, but 
when the gentleman turned round she found she 
had made an awful mistake. The poor frightened, 
innocent thing ran off screaming, l Ow ! Ow ! me 
gad! me gad! I'd tink it was sailor and it am 
the Sheriff heself.' " 




Colonel Foster-Foster " Home "Coloured gentry Census paper 
Curious returns The Zoo in Georgetown List of animals German 
warship Learning a new language Plain vernacular Amusements 
in British Guiana Eacing D'Urban racecourse Blood stock 
Georgetown races Belfield Cricket Ted Wright English teams 
Chinese cricketers Black players Dancing Creole Congo 
Hindoo Reminiscences Officials in British Guiana X Beke 
Military force White troops West Indian Regiment Soldiers burial- 
ground 98th regiment Withdrawal of troops Venezuelan raid 
Uruan Capture of the post Vixen 'Varsity dinner Mr. James 
Crosby Crosby office Insect plagues Cockroaches Ants Centi- 
pedes Hardbacks Marabuntas Electric light Gas Beckwith's 

ONE of the most amusing and interesting men in 
the colony was my old friend Colonel Foster- 
Foster. A cadet of an old Cumberland house, he 
had joined the army, but seeing no chance of 
active service, he accepted a commission in the 
Austrian cavalry, and with his regiment saw con- 
siderable service in Italy and elsewhere. He was 
a blood of the old type, and bore on his body the 
scars of many wounds received in action or in 
duels ; the most remarkable one being a red line 
six inches long, which showed where an enemy's 
sabre had inflicted a serious scalp wound. When 
the Crimean War broke out, Foster volunteered 


for service in the English army. Of course red 
tape prevented him being employed with the 
regulars, but he was placed in command of a body 
of Turkish irregulars or Bashi-Bazouks. These 
were good fighting material, and Foster soon 
brought them into action. After the close of the 
war, Foster's fighting days were over ; he obtained 
a grant of land in Vancouver's Island, and, when 
there, commanded a battalion of volunteers or 
militia, I forget which. He was subsequently 
appointed a stipendiary magistrate in British 
Guiana. In the course of his campaigns, he had 
gone through very varied experiences; and, like 
most old warriors, he was great at spinning yarns. 
One of his best stories and one which it required 
several splits to get out of him was about the 
Crimea. " When I was in command of part of 
the Turkish contingent, the Eussians one night 
made a furious sortie upon our position. After 
some hard fighting we drove them back. As we 
were repairing damages, the Duke of Cambridge 
rode up with his staff, and called out in a loud 
voice, ' Who commands this detachment ? ' I 
stepped forward, and saluting, said, 'I do, your 

royal Highness.' ' Your royal Highness be d d, 

sir ! ' cried the duke, leaning forward on his horse, 
and grasping me warmly by the hand, ' Call me 
George call me George ! ' " 

The colonel was a great cook, and very par- 
ticular about his food. The cooks in Demerara 
have a bad habit of cooking joints of meat early 
in the afternoon, and then warming them up again 


just before they are wanted for dinner. This arises 
in the main from their ignorance as to the length 
of time required to roast or boil any particular 
piece of meat. The colonel had a great hatred 
of this practice, which he said, and justly, made 
the meat sodden and tasteless. One day, when 
I was staying with him, he said, about half-past 
five o'clock, " I have a new Johnny as cook, so we 
had better go and see how he is getting on, and 
tell him to put the meat to roast ; " so we stalked 
into the kitchen, where we saw the beautiful little 
sirloin, on which the colonel's principal hopes for 
dinner rested, already cooked, and cooling out on 
the dresser. The colonel's moustache bristled 
with rage, his face became purple ; and, seizing 
the unfortunate cook by the scruff of his neck, 
shouted out, " Oh, you're another of these hell- 
fire warmers-up, are you? Out you go! " And 
giving the writhing man a vigorous kick, he sent 
him flying down the steps headlong into the com- 
pound below. 

One of the most touching incidents of colonial 
life is the universal use of the word " home " 
amongst all classes of the community, when speak- 
ing of England. A colonist never says that he is 
going to England or Scotland, as the case may be ; 
he always says he is " going home." In his con- 
versation he always talks of " home." " When 
I was last at home." "They do these things 
differently at home." " What's the news from 
home ? " are phrases continually used. This 
assumes a somewhat ludicrous aspect when you 

"HOME" 53 

hear these phrases from the mouths of black and 
coloured people, who, in many cases, have never 
even visited any part of Europe. We had a good 
laugh at the expense of a young coloured youth, 
who was swaggering about and saying that he 
"was going; home by the next mail; " when an 
elderly Scotch gentleman quietly asked him, " Oh, 
you are going home, are you ? And what part of 
Africa may that be ? " 

The conceit and affectation of some of the 
young generation of mulattoes and quadroons is 
astonishing. I am delighted to see any young 
coloured man by honest work and good behaviour 
raise himself to a high position amongst his fellow 
colonists, and many have done so. In my time 
there was a coloured chief justice in Barbados, 
a coloured solicitor-general in Trinidad, and in 
Demerara we had coloured gentlemen as legis- 
lators, magistrates, barristers, clergymen, mayors, 
and doctors, and they were treated with as much 
respect as white men in similar positions ; but 
when these gentry began to talk of their family 
and "home," and sport crests, and coats-of-arms, 
one was inclined to laugh, remembering from 
whence they sprung. 

The population of British Guiana increases 
very slowly; the death-rate is so much higher 
than the birth-rate, that there would be an actual 
decrease if it were not for the immigrants brought 
from India and the West Indian Islands. As in 
England, a decennial census of the people is taken. 
This is a matter of some difficulty, and the returns 


are sometimes very peculiar. The people cannot 
understand the several headings, and how the 
columns are to be filled up. 

The following examples from the census papers 
of 1881 were collected by an enumerator as a 
sample of the eccentricity or ignorance of the 
people. One citizen gave his name as " John," 
head of the family, " is a male ; " and then under 
the column of " Profession, Eank, or Occupation," 
he puts down, " Can't get nothing to do for the last 
six months, and can't pay house rent, has got a 
keeper and four children, they in Barbados, but is 
coming to Demerara." This same column of pro- 
fession, rank, or occupation is filled in with some 
peculiar information, e.g. one person's occupation 
is put down as " sickly;" one is an " invalid;" 
another is "cuck;" whilst one admits he is an 
" idler ; " and another ambitious person claims to be 
a "scoller;" one says he is a " farmer, sick of a 
cough;" and one yearling's occupation is entered as 
" sucker." The column devoted to deaf and dumb, 
blind, or imbecile, or idiot and lunatic persons 
is not less interesting. One man says that he has 
no " infurrities ; " the next man in the list writes 
" dito; " whilst a neighbour says he is " romantic ; " 
another says he had " no orflections ; " whilst one 
citizen puts down as an affliction that he has "been 
black from his birth ; " another that she is " cob in 
complexion; " and a third that she has a " black 
mother and a Portuguese father. 7 ' An east coast 
resident says he was born at "Larry Sophenear," 
which is his way of spelling Le Kesouvenir. One 


man returns himself as having been "born near 
town, and is belong to the Weslen Church." One 
gentleman, employed in working a punt, indulged 
himself in a long family history. After entering 
his name and occupation, he enters his wife's 
name " is my wife, is a female, not married yet, 
but will marry she in May ; she is dimisticated, is 
close washer. She is not inflicted, and is got two 
boy children for Joe in Barbados, and two is dead. 
Is got two for me, they can't read nor right yet." 
Under the column " Eelationship to Head of 
Family " many peculiar entries were made, owing 
to the social conditions of the population. Most 
of the lady friends of doubtful relationship are put 
down as " wives," although the next column 
unblushingly puts down their condition as " un- 
married." In many cases, however, there is no 
attempt at concealment, and they are variously 
described as " mistress," " keeper," etc., although 
one man in plain language describes his friend as 
" concubine." One gentleman makes a distinction 
by putting himself down as "head keeper." In 
the column headed " Condition as to Marriage " 
one gentleman writes "community of goods;" 
whilst one old lady describes her three daughters 
as " virgins. " One lady in plain language writes 
" knot." In fact, she is a knotty individual, as 
she describes her occupation as "knothing in 
particular," and her infirmities also as "knot." 
The column of occupation reveals the fact that 
four-fifths of the women living alone are "washers." 
There are, however, exceptions. One of the lonely 


ones describes herself as a " bottle swopper ; " and 
another says that " she cook for sheself." One 
gentleman is proud to say that he is " a porter in 
the mercantile line." Most people have some 
knowledge as to where they were born, but in that 
column one entry is "no say." Under the head 
" Infirmities, Deaf, Lunatic," etc., an old man, after 
describing himself as "lonely," adds he "loose a 
leg." One lady is suffering from "stomach pains;" 
but another is " healthy generally, but at present 
suffering slightly from fever." One wag says his 
only infirmity is "want of money," A very 
afflicted family is that of a certain enumerator who 
writes himself down as suffering from " structure ; " 
his wife from "nervousness;" his son is "partly 
rupted ; " and his daughters have " dry belly 
ache." One poor man, utterly ignoring the 
columnar divisions of the paper, gives us the 
following pathetic tale : " Me name is James 
Horner, i is 32 years old, and i work punt in the 
river, i is married, but keep one Barbadian woman 
who dead November last year, she name Rebecca 
Kemp clothes washer 28 year old and she dead 
November last year and i too sorry for she." 

When I was chairman of the Directorate I tried 
to establish a Zoo in the Botanic Gardens in 
Georgetown. At first the idea was taken up with 
enthusiasm, and subscriptions and animals poured 
in upon me in embarrassing profusion ; but I was 
called away to act as Attorney-General of Jamaica, 
and after my departure the project languished, and 
the animals either died or were sent to the English 



Zoo. It may amuse my readers to see a list of the 
animals which were sent to me during the first 
few weeks of the undertaking. When we had a 
large python in a tub under the house, an ant bear 
in the stable, a hacka tiger in the scullery, and 
several small evil smelling mammals all about, my 
wife began to object, as she was persuaded that 
the python would arise some night in his might 
and make a meal off one of the children, and the 
small mammals were disgusting to her olfactory 
nerves. An armadillo that I bought dug a hole in 
the garden and produced a litter of five young 
ones. They were the most comical little beasts 
just like grey india rubber dolls, and when you 
squeezed them they squeaked in the same way. 
A Brazilian porcupine got away one night ; the 
next morning I saw an excited crowd in the next 
street, and a black boy rushed in to us, exclaiming, 
" Please, sah, they be find your pimplerhaag " 
(prickly pig). 


Small Sloth 


Hacka tiger 

Sackiwinkie monkey 
Ring tail monkey . . . 




Large Anaconda 

Yrwarri rat 

Beza monkey 
Red howling baboon 
Brazilian porcupine ... 
Two Curassow 


From Mr. Morrison. 

Presented by Hon. Howell Jones. 


Presented by Mr. G. Humphreys. 

Mr. Wood Davis. 

Mrs. Thornhill. 

Mrs. Bridges. 

Mrs. Murray. 
Presented by Mr. Brodie. 

Mr. Kaufman. 


Horned owl 
Large python 
Sackiwinkie monkey 
Large ocelot 

Labba (hollow-cheeked paca) Mr. Ibbott. 


Pair of ring doves 

An Accourie 

Four peacocks 

Water haas 


Large ant eater 

Presented by Mr. Odium. 
Mr. Long. 
Mr. Bridges. 
,. Mr. Curtis. 


Mr. Crosby. 
Mr. Odium. 

Mrs. Gemmel. 
Mr. Hewick. 
Captain Arnot. 

Although the Zoo was a failure, we kept some 
interesting animals in the gardens. In one lake 
were two mannatee, and great was our excitement 
when one day we found a young one playing on 
its mother's back. Two tapirs, locally called 
mypourie, wandered about at their pleasure ; some 
water haas played about in a small pond ; and a 
few of the graceful deer of Guiana grazed in a 
paddock. As to birds, the gardens were full of 
them. My daughter, Mrs. Percival and her 
husband, published a list of those they had per- 
sonally observed, amounting to one hundred and 
twenty distinct kinds. 

We sometimes received visits from the French 
and German warships. I can remember when a 
German training ship came to the colony many 
years ago. The captain and his officers were a 
jovial crew, and fully appreciated and reciprocated 
the lavish hospitality which was showered upon 
them. The German Consul gave a ball in their 
honour; in the card-room I made the fourth in 
a rubber, with the gallant captain as my partner. 
As we picked up our cards after the first deal, he 


said to me, "Mein Herr! ven I 'ave a tromp I 
plays a tromp, and ven I don't play a tromp, you 
will know I 'ave not got a tromp." And so he 
did, and the result was that I lost twenty-six 
shillings in the first two rubbers. It is a curious 
fact that the first words of a new language, which 
are acquired by casual intercourse with its speakers, 
are generally vituperative or indecent ones. The 
first Hindustani words learnt by the English 
soldier are those of cursing and abuse. I have 
heard an English gentleman pour out a string of 
abusive epithets upon some unfortunate natives, 
which, if they had been translated into their 
native tongue, the most blasphemous bargees would 
have shrunk from using. Cursing in Hindustani 
is of extreme ingenuity, and puts to shame the 
monotonous expletives of our native land. I once 
travelled with a Frenchman, who was proud of 
his knowledge of the English language, which he 
said he had acquired by residence in England, but 
his conversation was seasoned with vulgar and 
indecent words. Amongst such a polyglot people 
as those inhabiting British Guiana, the first efforts 
of each race to acquire the language of the other 
strikingly illustrates my proposition. On one 
occasion a Hindoo boy about eleven years old was 
brought before me, having been summoned by 
an old black man for using abusive and insulting 
words to him. I explained the charge to the boy, 
asked him whether he did it or not, to which he 

promptly answered, "It's a bl y lie, sir." He 

had no intention of being disrespectful to the 


court, but wished to explain his innocence 
in the usual vernacular which he heard in the 

An east coast parson held a baptismal service. 
The candidate was not an infant in arms, but a 
sturdy three-year-old Creole coolie boy. He was 
with difficulty coaxed to the font, and the priest 
began to read the office. All went well until he 
dipped his hand into the font and sprinkled the 
water on the up-turned face of the boy, who not 
understanding the nature of the ceremony, darted 
a surprised and angry look at the parson, yelled 
out, "You d d beast!' 7 and attempted to run 
away. The parson said he never was so shocked 
in his life. 

A story was current in the colony of a Portu- 
guese recently arrived from Madeira, who, wishing 
to propitiate a coloured maiden, whose charms 
had touched his susceptible nature, was heard 
murmuring in mellifluous accents under her window 
the only English words which he had acquired, 
" Son of a beetch, son of a beetch," and was much 
astonished when he was violently assaulted by the 
outraged damsel. 

Amongst the black people there are some words 
which have been handed down from their Congo 
ancestors, the original meaning of which they have 
forgotten, but they know they are very bad words, 
and the use of them to each other by black women 
generally results in violent assault and bloodshed. 
Such words as u Kokkabuddoo " and " Pe-he," 
applied to a woman, are supposed to be the last 

E AC IN a 61 

resource of foul abuse, but I never yet met any 
person who could explain to me what the words 

Amusements in British G-uiana are much the 
same as in other English tropical colonies. The 
energy of the English race shows itself in an 
exposure to the sun and a scorn for the heat, which 
excites the wonder and contempt of foreigners. 
Cricket and lawn tennis flourish exceedingly; 
rifle shooting and racing have their old-established 
clubs ; golf has been started, but has not caught 
on, although it would seem to be a game peculiarly 
suited to the climate. Eacing is the most popular 
amusement amongst all classes. There were race 
meetings at different parts of the colony at a 
remote period of its history ; but a regular race club 
was not established until 1829, when the first 
meeting was held at Colony House on the 28th of 
September in that year, His Excellency Sir Benja- 
min Durban presiding. The existing racecourse, 
which was presented to the club by the same 
Governor, and named after him the Durban Eace- 
course, is just outside the limits of Georgetown. 
It is an oval, one mile and ninety-six yards in cir- 
cumference, and cost 11,580 guilders to make up. 
The course is perfectly flat, like the surrounding 
country, with some sharp curves. There are two 
meetings annually, spring and autumn, when about 
1500 is given in prizes at each meeting, besides a 
cup, value 50, presented by the Governor. The 
first races on the Durban Course were held on the 
3rd and 4th of November, 1829, and, with the 


exception of three years (1843-45), they have been 
held regularly ever since. 

In the early days of racing we find some good 
bloodstock in the colony : amongst others, " Cobb," 
by Popinjay, out of Muck-bird, formerly belonging 
to Lord Glenorchy; " Murillo," by Magistrate 
Eosalba, bred by the Earl of Derby, and foaled in 
1824. In 1834 Mr. Edward Duffy advertises in 
the local papers his bloodstock, etc., for sale. A 
thoroughbred entire horse, " Morpeth," by Eoller ; 
two brood mares ; " also the slaves Joseph and 
Tommy, both young men and well disposed." 
Later on we see advertised the thoroughbred horse 
" Croft," by Whalebone, dam by Lancer Priscilla, 
by Highflyer; also the stud horse " Gift," bred by 
Lord Bangor, got by Collector, dam by Queens- 
bury. The principal jockeys in those days were 
white boys from England; their names were 
George Farrell, Caldow, James Watson, Davis. 
"Lord George," which belonged to my old friend 
Mr. H. G. Parnell, was a distinguished racer. He 
was a brown entire horse by Lannercost, and half- 
brother to Van Tromp, winner of the Epsom Derby 
in 1847. Another horse of his called " Lucy," a 
brown filly, was by Charles XII., winner of the St. 
Leger, Liverpool Cup, etc. 

The Colony Cup was established in 1829, and 
the Durban Course Cup in 1852. In later years 
good horses have been imported regularly, so that 
in the veins of our Creole horses runs some of the 
best blood of the English turf. " Little Hampton " 
and " St. Bruno " were amongst the sires, and of 


the dams the pick was that grand mare Dagmar, 
daughter of Peter, who for two years swept the 
board at all the race meetings in the West Indies. 
The races were always well attended by all 
classes ; white, black, coloured, Hindoo, Chinese, 
Portuguese, all meet and jostle one another on the 
course; the noise is deafening, the excitement 
intense, especially when some horses from Trinidad 
or Barbados are entered, when colonial rivalry is 
in full swing. Gambling, cheating, drinking, and 
fighting go on in a most cheerful way, and no one 
seems much the worse for it. There is always an 
immense amount of wrangling between the black 
people over a bet, the loser not wishing to disgorge, 
and if there be a stake-holder he is generally absent 
when the race is over. I once asked my butler, 
Bailey, if he had been betting at the races, and he 
replied, "No, sir; how I bet, suppose I lose, I 
lose ; suppose I win, I must fight for my money." 

There is a good country meeting held twice a 
year at Belfield on the East coast, where an 
amusing day can be spent. 

There is an excellent cricket ground belonging 
to the Georgetown Cricket Club, with a fine 
pavilion, and all the paraphernalia of a first-class 
ground. The turf is as good as that of an English 
county club, although sometimes, when it is most 
wanted, it is flooded with water and more suited 
for a regatta than a cricket match. A Challenge 
Cup has been established to be competed for by 
Trinidad, Barbados, and British Guiana, and the 
contests for its possession produce good cricket and 


much local enthusiasm. In 1895 Mr. E. S. Lucas 
brought a team of English cricketers to the West 
Indies, and they played two matches in Demerara ; 
and in 1897 Lord Hawke visited the colony with 
Messrs. Leveson-Gower, P. Warner, Bardswell, 
Bromley-Davenport, Heseltine, and other good 
cricketers. We had some good cricketers in the 
G.C.C., notable amongst others, Mr. Edward 
Fortescue Wright, Inspector of Police, who had 
been well known in Gloucestershire as a cricketer 
before he came to the colony, and who made for 
himself a lasting name in West Indian cricket 
annals. He was an excellent all-round cricketer, 
good bowler, brilliant field, and one of the hardest 
hitters I ever saw. It was a splendid sight to see 
Ted Wright, when he was well set at the wicket, 
open his shoulders and knock the balls about ; the 
first whack up against the palings, the second over 
the pavilion into the road beyond, another went 
flying into the Lamaha Canal ; and all without any 
apparent effort. In a match against Trinidad, in 
1883, he beat their whole eleven off his own bat. 
At athletic sports I have seen him throw a cricket 
ball 119 yards. 

The drawback to cricket in the colony was the 
absence of any club able to compete with the 
G.C.C. on anything like equal terms. Once 
the club received a challenge from a club of 
Chinese cricketers to play the second eleven 
of the G.C.C. It was an amusing match. The 
G.C.C. won the toss and went in ; they made 
one hundred and fifty, without the loss of a 


wicket, so the innings was declared closed, and 
the Celestials took to the wickets. About the third 
ball the captain was given out l.b.w., but he 
refused to go, saying, " Me no play that way." 
In the next over he was caught by the wicket- 
keeper, but he still refused to budge ; and it was 
not until his middle stump was knocked out of 
the ground by a yorker that he allowed he was 
out, and stalked off to the pavilion muttering 
strange Chinese oaths. Despite their sticking 
principles, the Chinese eleven were disposed of 
for thirty-six runs ; and in the follow on they were 
not more successful. The black and coloured 
people are madly fond of cricket, every available 
open space of ground is full of them playing the 
game in one form or another. Little boys play 
on the sides of the streets with an empty kerosine 
oil tin for wickets, and the rib of a palm leaf for 
a bat. Some of them attain a certain proficiency 
in the game. I remember at a celebrated match 
between the Government secretariat and the police, 
the Inspector-General put on police-constable 
David to bowl. He was an enormous black man, 
six feet six inches in height, and as he bowled 
he retired twenty yards behind the wicket and 
advanced to the attack whirling his right arm 
round like a windmill ; when he reached the 
bowling crease he stopped short and delivered a 
terrific underhand grub straight on the wicket, 
which somewhat disconcerted the batsman, who 
was not accustomed to such a style of bowling. 
Dancing is also a favourite diversion. Creoles, 


white, black, and brown, all dance spontaneously ; 
they require no teaching. The black people dance 
beautifully ; I never saw better waltzing in my life 
than at some of their dignity balls. 

Dances are frequent in Georgetown ; and there 
are a number of places called " practising rooms " 
much frequented by the young coloured people, 
where other amusements besides dancing are, I 
fear, practised. At their balls, dancing is kept 
up with spirit from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. ; the people 
behave very well, and there is little or no drunken- 
ness. At their fancy dress balls, the costumes of 
the black people are marvellous. At one to which 
I had been invited, a tall, stout, black woman 
represented Queen Victoria ; she had the place 
of honour on the dais ; an obsequious courtier was 
fanning her, and, seeing that her Majesty was 
perspiring freely under her robes and crown, 
suggested a little iced water, but the Queen 
replied, " No buddy no waater, me tak' a little 
able (strong) punch." 

The Africans (Congos, Kroomen, etc.) have 
some native dances which they perform at times, 
such as the kumfoo and others ; but these are of 
a grossly lascivious nature and not often to be 
witnessed. The Hindoos have nautch dances at 
the festival of the Mohurrun and at weddings, but 
the dancers are almost always boys dressed up as 

Most books of reminiscences are filled with the 
author's recollections of great men, royalties, 
authors, statesmen whom he has met, what they 


said, what they wore, and what they did ; bonsmots 
and quips sparkle in their pages, and although 
many of them are chestnuts, and have been told 
over and over again, they help to enliven their 
chapters, and leave the reader with the impression 
that the author has, during his life, moved in the 
highest circles ; like Mr. Turveydrop's reminis- 
cences of the Prince Regent, they are evidence 
that he was fitted to shine in the best society 
My readers might naturally expect from me similar 
records. I might be expected to give details of 
interviews with the royal princes, noble lords, and 
gallant admirals who, during my residence in the 
colony, visited the shores of British Guiana. 
The many excellent gentlemen who have resided 
amongst us as governors might provide a fund of 
anecdote and wit ; but, to tell the truth, I have not 
the slightest recollection of any anecdote or witty 
remark associated in any way with these illustrious 
visitors or great men. One comical incident I 
recall which occurred in the Executive Council. 
A Government official had been suspended, and 
was being examined as to his misdeeds before that 
tribunal, when one of the members asked the 

culprit, " Mr. B , I understand, sir, that you 

are living in adultery." " No, sir," was the reply, 
" I am living in a two-storey house." 

Guiana, like other British possessions, boasted 
a governor and commander-in-chief, a colonial 
secretary, an auditor-general, a receiver-general, 
an immigration agent-general, an attorney-gene- 
ral, a solicitor-general, a postmaster-general, an 


inspector-general, a surgeon-general, an adminis- 
trator-general, other generals, and innumerable 
subordinate officials, who were all required to 
govern a population as big as that of a fourth-rate 
English town. I have already stated that what 
astonished me most on arrival in the colony were 
the frogs and the mosquitoes ; but I must add 
that when I found that the President of the United 
States, who ruled over more than 50,000,000 of 
people, received a salary of J65000 and a residence, 
whilst the Governor of British Guiana, who 
governed a population of 250,000, received .5000 
and a residence, 2500 for contingencies, and all 
his wines and spirits admitted duty free, I was 
still more astonished. The Yankees seem to have 
discovered some disparity in the salaries, for I 
understand of late years that they have raised the 
pay of their President to 10,000. 

There was one notable exception to the general 
dulness of our official class, and that was our 
genial Administrator- General, who could pour forth 
-an endless stream of anecdote, and who, under the 
nom de plume X Beke, has published some amusing 
yarns about his experiences as a Government 
official in the West Indian Islands. He was more 
fortunate than I have been, though it must be 
confessed that some of his stories might have 
reference to what happened in the island of Bara- 
taria under Sancho Panza's beneficent rule. 

In the old days a considerable military force 
was maintained in British Guiana. There were 
troops in Georgetown, New Amsterdam, and 


detachments were stationed at Mahaica, Fort 
Wellington, and Aberdeen. The mortality among 
the soldiers was excessive. Owing to the stu- 
pidity of the War Office, regiments were generally 
brought down from Halifax or Canada, often at 
the most unfavourable season, and crowded into 
insanitary barracks. Yellow fever carried them 
off by scores; and at last the home authorities 
refused to send any more white troops to the 
colony ; so we were relegated to the protection of 
the West Indian Eegiments, which were composed 
of negroes officered by Englishmen. 

Hundreds of gallant men, who had fought in 
the Peninsula and Waterloo, left their bones in the 
dreary soldiers' burial-ground at Eve Leary, unre- 
corded and uncared for. It will ever be a pleasing 
reminiscence for me that, owing to the assistance 
of Lord Gormanston himself an old soldier I 
was able to make their graveyard somewhat decent, 
enclosing it with a neat fence, and planting it with 
ornamental trees. When I first went out, Deme- 
rara was the headquarters of the 2nd West Indian 
Kegiment, Colonel Wise in command. When the 
first Ashanti war broke out, the regiment was sent 
to Cape Coast Castle, and their place was tem- 
porarily filled by a company of the 98th Eegiment 
from Barbados, under Major Scheberras, with 
Captain Tibbs and Lieutenant Allen. The general 
in Barbados was much alarmed about the health 
of these white troops sent to our pestilential 
shores, and ordered the officer in command to send 
him frequent telegrams and reports. But so much 


changed were the drainage and accommodation 
of the barracks that, although the white troops 
remained with us more than a year, not a single 
man died, and very few found their way into the 
sick list. 

When the Ashanti campaign was over, we had 
alternate detachments from the 1st and 2nd West 
Indian Eegiments ; but their numbers were gradu- 
ally diminished, until, in 1890, the troops were 
withdrawn altogether, and we were told to protect 
ourselves, which we have done by forming a body 
of armed police, and by the establishment of a 
militia force. Our dispute with Venezuela and 
the United States about our boundary necessitated 
additional precautions, so two Maxim guns were 
imported, and Fort William Frederick, at the 
mouth of the Demerara Kiver, was armed with 
modern artillery. 

In 1893 some Venezuelan soldiers made a raid 
upon our territory in anticipation of Dr. Jameson's 
celebrated invasion of the Transvaal, but they lost 
themselves in the bush, and after enduring great 
hardships from hunger, damp, and insects, were dis- 
covered, to the number of twelve, by some Indians, 
who guided them down to Bartica, where they 
were arrested by the magistrate. He didn't know 
what to do with them, but as they had some rusty 
old rifles with them, he ordered them to be charged 
for carrying guns without a license, and as they 
had no money to pay their fines, he sent them to 
the Georgetown Gaol. Here the Governor released 
them, fed and clothed them, and sent them by the 


first steamer to Bolivar. Uruan was our outpost 
up the Cuyuni; and in 1894 Inspectors Barnes 
and Baker were seized by the Venezuelans and 
carried away, and the police-station was looted. 
I had given Barnes my little fox-terrier hitch 
" Vixen," when I was going on leave, and he took 
her with him to Uruan. Unfortunately she died 
there, and Barnes buried her, and put up a monu- 
ment over her grave. When the Venezuelans 
descended upon them, the ignorant soldiers thought 
that poor Vixen's tombstone was a boundary mark, 
so they dragged it out with great indignation, and 
hurled it into the river. 

Like most English colonies, we established an 
annual 'Varsity dinner, where we have mustered 
as many as sixteen graduates of Oxford and Cam- 
bridge. Foremost amongst them was that grand 
old man, for fifty-two years Bishop of Guiana, 
William Piercy Austin, prelate of the most dis- 
tinguished order of St. Michael and St. George, 
who took the greatest interest in these convivial 
meetings, and always attended when he was in 
the colony. Amongst others I may mention his 
son, the Eev. William G. Austin, of Magdalen, 
Oxford, w T ho rowed in the 'Varsity crew at Putney; 
Mr. James Crosby, of Trinity College, Cambridge, 
of whom more anon ; Edward Everard Rushworth, 
of St. John's, Oxford, who administered the 
government of the colony in 1873-74. Three 
judges of the Supreme Court, John Hampden 
King, of Skimmery; C. H. Lovesey, of Queen's, 
Oxford ; and John Tankerville Goldney, Cambridge, 


now Chief Justice of Trinidad. The Kev. Canon 
Smith, of St. John's, Cambridge, was a regular 
subscriber to these dinners; and I can recall J. 
Ernest Tinne, of Trinity College, Oxford ; Gilbert 
Kobertson Sandbach, of Brasenose ; Alfred Parker, 
of University ; Edward Everard im Thurn, of 
Trinity College, Oxford ; Exley Percival, of Brase- 
nose, and many others. 

Mr. James Crosby was one of the best-known 
men in the West Indies. Educated at Trinity 
College, Cambridge, he was called to the Bar, and 
was employed by some sugar proprietors to plead 
their cause in the courts of St. Vincent. Here 
lie continued to practise, and obtained a moderate 
success. There was a good story told about him 
in St. Vincent. He had defended a murderer 
before the Supreme Court, but the man was con- 
victed, as Crosby thought, on insufficient evidence ; 
so he appealed to the Governor, who, however, 
refused to interfere with the finding of the court. 
So when Crosby went to inform the prisoner, he 
was highly indignant, and told the doomed man, 
" Never mind, never mind; let them hang you, 
and then they shall see what the consequences will 
be to them ; " but the poor man did not see it in 
the same light. Mr. Crosby was appointed Immi- 
gration Agent-General and Protector of Immi- 
grants in British Guiana, and there he so identified 
himself for nearly thirty years with the welfare of 
the large East Indian population, that he became 
a sort of deity and impersonation of protection, so 
the department was called " Crosby Office." The 


chief himself was known as "Burra Crosby Sahib ; " 
and all the sub-immigration agents lost their per- 
sonality, and were known as " Chota Crosby 
Sahibs ; " and although the old man has been dead 
and gone for many years, his successors have been 
compelled to bear his name, and every coolie in 
difficulty announces his intention of going " to 
see Crosby." 

Mr. Crosby died in 1880, having had apparently 
as many lives as the proverbial cat. He was an 
energetic old man, and although seventy years of 
age would go to balls and dance away like a 
youngster. On one occasion at the Assembly 
Rooms, as the company were leaving at 3 a.m., 
and we \vere lighting our cigars in the hall, he 
astonished us by precipitating himself down the 
staircase, and falling headlong into a large flower- 
tub ; he was picked up and sent home in charge 
of a medical man, but next day he turned up all 
right. A few weeks afterwards he went to a 
croquet party at Government House, and hasten- 
ing across the ground to shake hands with a lady 
friend, he tripped over a hoop, and fell into a box 
full of mallets, breaking one of his ribs. Shortly 
afterwards, when he had repaired damages, he paid 
a visit to England. On his return in the Don, 
they encountered bad weather ; but the dauntless 
Crosby must go up on deck to see what was going 
on, so not unnaturally he fell head-foremost down 
the companion, and broke his collar-bone and one 
of his ribs, besides spraining his wrist. This kept 
him quiet for the rest of the voyage ; but not many 


months afterwards, lie broke a bone in one of 
his legs, and taking to his bed, he never left it 
again alive. 

To residents in equatorial climes the immense 
insect tribe is a source of annoyance ; their name 
is legion, for they are many. The great chestnut- 
coloured cockroaches are destructive, foul-smelling 
brutes, to be slain without benefit of clergy. Ants 
of all sizes and colours simply exist in billions, 
black, red, brown, white, and grey, varying in size 
from the huge solitary ant as big as an English 
spider, to the minute sugar ants, of which several 
hundreds could stand on a shilling without 

Ants are ubiquitous ; if you leave a little sugar 
at the bottom of your coffee cup, in a few minutes 
it is covered with ants ; if you kill a cockroach 
and leave its carcass on the floor, in a short time 
it is hidden under a swarm of ants, and in a couple 
of hours all sign of it has disappeared. There are 
great columns of ants called yakman, which march 
through the country, devouring everything as they 
pass. If your house is in the line of march, you 
must vacate it till the column has passed, which 
sometimes takes two or three days. One good thing 
they do, they clear your house of vermin, devouring 
every centipede, scorpion, and cockroach, and all 
the young bats and mice which cannot save them- 
selves by flight. 

Brown centipedes six inches long are common 
in old houses, and smaller and more venomous 
black ones have a nasty habit of hiding in one's 


boots. I remember one day in the seventies I 
was dining with Edmund Field at Plantation Great 
Diamond; a Captain Eoss from England was 
staying with him, and coming in late, he ran up- 
stairs to dress for dinner as quickly as possible. 
Before long, we heard him coming gaily downstairs 
humming a tune, which was suddenly turned into 
a yell, and when we hurried out to see what was 
the matter, we saw poor Ross sitting on the stairs 
tugging frantically at one of his dress boots, which 
he flung off, and then sat nursing his foot and 
groaning. Field picked up the discarded boot, 
and giving it a shake, out dropped a small black 
centipede which had been curled up inside. 
Ammonia and other remedies were applied to the 
suffering foot, but although Eoss joined us at 
dinner, he had lost all his appetite. 

When the rains begin, Georgetown is invaded 
by a kind of black beetle, locally known as " hard- 
backs." These are sometimes so numerous as to 
interfere with our social functions. Dining one 
night at the Mess of the 2nd West Indian Eegiment, 
at Eve Leary Barracks, we couldn't eat our dinners 
for the showers of hardbacks which fell into our 
soup and wine, filled our hair, and crawled down 
our backs. 

On another occasion, at a grand ball at the 
Assembly Eooms, the hardbacks were so numerous 
that men with brooms were employed to sweep the 
floor, piling the beetles into buckets for removal ; 
dancing was out of the question, as with every 
step you crushed a hardback ; and if, as the poet 


says, " the beetle crushed beneath the heel feels 
the same pang as when a giant dies," the amount 
of anguish in that ball-room on that night must 
have been stupendous. The ladies were tormented 
as the insects filled their hair, and crawled up 
their dresses and down their necks. 

Flying ants are also at times a great nuisance, 
as they hustle into the room by thousands, and 
the moment they touch anything their wings drop 
off, and they run about in all directions. New- 
comers are often startled by the great green mantis, 
who alights upon their heads and folds his hands 
in an attitude of prayer. A large brown wasp, 
called a marabunta, builds his pretty paper combs 
under the eaves and galleries of our houses ; his 
sting is severe ; whilst the mason bees build their 
curious circular mud-houses, like rows of Esquimaux 
huts, on the backs of your books and sofas, and on 
the fronts of your pictures and your blinds. 

The electric light was introduced into the city 
some years ago, and it was a curious sight to see 
the great arc-lights surrounded by myriads of 
insects, moths, hardbacks, beetles, until the ground, 
for yards around, was black with their fallen bodies. 

Gas was first used in 1872 ; the first gas-lit 
ball was in February, 1873, when Admiral Fan- 
shawe and the North American fleet paid us a 
visit. The negroes were much astonished at the 
new light ; they could not understand how it burnt 
without oil ; they were continually climbing up 
the lamp-posts, putting their fingers in the flame 
and exclaiming, " Eh ! me Gad ! it burn.'' 


When I first went out to the colony, there was 
only one decent hotel in Georgetown, kept by a 
sturdy old Yorkshireman and his wife, by name 
Beckwith, where I secured a bed on my arrival. 
Dining with Mr. Stephens two nights afterwards, I 
returned to the hotel about 11 p.m., and was sur- 
prised to find it locked up, all lights extinguished, 
and no signs of life about the place. I hammered 
at the door for some time without success ; at last 
some one descended the stairs and opened the door, 
and I beheld old Mr. Beckwith in his night-gown 
and night-cap, with a lighted candle in his hand. I 
asked him what the devil he meant by locking me 
out of the house, and threatened to leave him and 
go elsewhere in the morning. " You may go as 
soon as you like/' he replied. So feeling snubbed 
and angry, I retired to my room. Next morning 
I related my experiences to Alexander Reid, the 
manager of the Colonial Bank, and announced my 
intentions of leaving Beckwith's at once, and going 
to a better managed place. He laughed and said, 
" But where will you go ? There is no other hotel 
which is fit for you to stop in." So I had to make 
the best of it ; and hearing that Mr. Beckwith 
came from Leeds, I began to talk to him about his 
native town, the improvements made since he left 
it, the new Town Hall, the new bridge at the 
bottom of Briggate, etc., until I won the old man's 
heart, and over a glass of his particular sherry 
we became quite chummy, and he told me that 
if I ever expected to be out late to tell him, 
and he would order some one to sit up for me. 


Beck with was what 'Arry would call a " harbitrary 
gent." He caught one of his boarders, a gentle- 
man connected with the Panama Telegraph Co., 
making love to the ladies' maid, and he put him 
out of the hotel, bag and baggage, in an hour. 
His amorous propensities got the same gentleman 
into further trouble, for going to St. Thomas, and 
being caught by the Governor of that island making 
love to one of his daughters, he was ordered to 
leave the island within twenty-four hours and 
never return. 


Equatorial zone Tropical vegetation Forests Striking effects Gardens 
in British Guiana Fauna Shooting Game bags Muscovy ducks 
Hoatzin Jaguars Waracabra tigers Deer Peccary Tapir 
Monkeys Iguanas Snakes Fishing Cuffum Lukananni Can- 
nibal snakes Essequibo and Aroabisce coast Old-time planters 
Racecourse Hospitality Practical jokes Clergy Dean Austin 
Rev. William Brett St. John's Church Medical officers Riot on 
the coast An awkward predicament A faithful sentry Sheriff 
Humphreys Anna Austin. 

THE world, according to the geography books of 
our youth, is divided into five zones two frigid, 
two temperate, and one tropic although a little 
girl of mine, in answer to her governess, described 
the latter as the intemperate zone an unconscious 
sarcasm. But there is another zone, rarely men- 
tioned by the teachers of youth, but which has 
been clearly delineated by Wallace, Bates, and 
other naturalists, viz. the equatorial belt, which 
stretches about ten degrees on each side of the 
equator. The climate, flora and fauna, of this 
region differ materially from the other portions of 
the tropics. 

Within this belt hurricanes and typhoons are 
unknown, whereas they are felt at their worst 
between the tropical line and the equatorial; 


vegetation is of the most luxuriant nature, 
temperature being high, rain abundant, and wind- 
storms absent. But, despite their grandeur and 
density, visitors to this region are generally dis- 
appointed by the equatorial forests. They have 
heard of the gorgeous flowers of the tropics, and 
they expect to see something extraordinary and 
striking to the eye. As a matter of fact the 
tropical forest is singularly sombre and devoid of 
bright colour; any flowers that exist are at the 
top of the trees, one hundred feet above your head, 
whither also fly the bright butterflies, and the 
brighter birds which feed upon them. You may 
journey for hundreds of miles through tropical 
forests without seeing any bright flowers or con- 
spicuous masses of colour. At times such things 
happen. I remember once on a reach of the 
Demerara Kiver for about 1 three miles the trees 
of the forest on one side of the stream were 
covered with a bright purple creeper, which fell 
in festoons from the tops of the trees, and was 
reflected at length in the placid water. Lit up 
by the slanting rays of the sun, the woods pre- 
sented a blaze of glory which I have rarely seen 

Of course, in cultivated places, where trees 
are planted for effect or use, some grand aspects 
are created. I remember, in Jamaica, driving for 
a mile through an avenue of flamboyant trees 
which were literally covered with their brilliant 
crimson and scarlet flowers ; the effect was painful 
to the eyes, so vivid and gorgeous were the tones. 



Another time, riding in Trinidad down a gorge 
from the mountains, the whole valley before us 
was filled with a rich golden glow, caused by the 
setting sun shining on the flowering oronoque 
trees, which lined both sides of the valley. In 
Demerara about sunset, when the flowers open, 
a broad trench, forty feet wide and a mile long, 
filled with the Victoria Eegia lily, is a wonderful 
spectacle. The air is laden with the heavy scent 
from the flowers, rising between the great round 
leaves four to five feet wide. At the Cabacaburi 
mission, on the Pomeroon Kiver, there was a huge 
ceiba tree, whose trunk shot up for seventy feet 
in the air before the branches began to expand. 
This trunk was entirely surrounded and hidden 
by a gorgeous coloured climbing plant, which, 
when in full flower, turned the old ceiba into a 
pillar of gold, seventy feet high, and four to six 
feet wide, which, under the blaze of the setting 
sun, presented a floral spectacle which I have 
never seen surpassed. 

Gardens in British Guiana are, as a rule, dis- 
appointing, and, after a time, one looks upon them 
as frauds. Koses, except the strong tea-scented 
ones like Marechal Niel, will not flower success- 
fully. There are no flowering plants such as 
abound in English gardens and greenhouses. The 
only conspicuous and beautiful objects are the 
flowering trees and creepers the bourgainvillia, 
alamanda, various tropoeolums, and ipomoeas, 
with the magnificent blue convolvolus, called 
"morning glory," and the lovely pink ooraleta, 



pinkest of pink flowers, flower continually all the 
year round, and cover house, verandas, and palings 
with never-ending beauty. There are many flower- 
ing trees, which once a year are a hlaze of glory ; 
but the flower borders can only be filled by 
crotons of many kinds, poinsettias, coleus, and 
such bright-leaved plants, which look always gay, 
and furnish a wealth of colour. Caladiums are a 
troublesome weed in the canefields, and silver 
ferns border every watercourse. Ferns are beautiful, 
and grow luxuriantly. Orchids, except when in 
flower, are hideous plants, and are besfc kept out 
of sight. One of the only successful pot plants 
is the lovely eucharis lily, which is easily grown, 
and flowers luxuriantly ; zinnias, cockscombs, 
balsams, sunflowers, grow up, flower, and die, 
with a rapidity which is astounding, and it is 
only by continuous sowings that any show of 
such flowers can be maintained. Nothing in 
British Guiana is done in moderation; you are 
either drowned out with water, or else scorched 
to death by the sun. One day you will be digging 
little trenches to get rid of the wet ; and in a 
week you will be watering vigorously with a hose 
to prevent all your plants dying of drought. Two 
or three days of scorching sun and drying trade 
wind will change a blooming garden into a desert, 
unless constant care be exercised. The soil is a 
stiff clay, which cracks and gapes under drought, 
and the surface becomes baked into a substance 
like adobe. All the sand, ashes, manure, etc., 
which you put on it, and dig into it, seem to 

GAME 83 

disappear like magic. The learned gardener and 
botanist, who for many years was superintendent 
of the Botanic Gardens, has often told me that, 
in all his life, he never knew any soil so unsuitable 
for gardening purposes as the soil in the neigh- 
bourhood of Georgetown. 

Despite the enormous forests swarming with 
animal life which stretch for two thousand miles 
to the south and west of British Guiana, and the 
innumerable rivers and streams which pour through 
the colony into the Atlantic Ocean, the amount of 
shooting and fishing to be enjoyed is very limited. 
In the forest itself the bush is so thick that you 
cannot see ten yards ahead, and the undergrowth 
so dense that you might be surrounded by game, 
without being aware of their presence. I have 
spent many days shooting with the Indians, and 
of my own unaided efforts I should never have 
killed or seen anything ; but the natives are 
endowed with what seems to us a marvellous 
faculty for discovering the haunts of birds and 
beasts, and with their help I was sometimes able 
to kill a few maroudies, a kind of wild turkey, and 
maam, a sort of large rail. Monkeys and sloths 
may often be killed ; and in some places water 
haas and labba are plentiful. The Indian hunter 
never fires his gun unless he is certain to kill. 
Time is no object to him, whereas powder and 
shot are valuable ; he will waste a charge upon a 
deer, labba, or mypourie (tapir), because he con- 
siders it worth the expense ; but in shooting 
marondi or powis, he will lie on his belly for an 


hour, watching a small flock feeding, until two or 
three of the unsuspecting birds get their heads in 
the line of fire, before he draws the trigger. Our 
game bags would rather astonish the English 
sportsman. Turning over my diaries, I find an 
entry under September 8th, 1873. " Mora, upper 
Demerara Eiver, went out shooting with Simon 
(an Arawak Indian), killed five maroudies, one 
monkey, two acouries, one armadillo, and two 
snakes." Sometimes at favourable seasons large 
bags may be made. A party of five gentlemen, 
shooting for a week on the Abary Creek in 
October, 1894, made a record score, fishing and 
shooting. Their list of slain was as follows : 
105 pigeons, 12 parrots, 2 cranes, 57 iguanas, 5 
toucans, 5 carouws, 1 macaw, 37 muscovy ducks, 
29 quaacks, 10 bitterns, 15 sundries (including 
negrocop and heeries), 1 water haas, 1 manatee, 
274 fish (cuffum, lukananni, yarrow, etc.). 

On the flat bare coast lands negrocop and 
white cranes are at times seen in large numbers ; 
and curri-curri and spoonbills may be shot by 
enthusiastic sportsmen ; but what we understand 
in England by a day's shooting can seldom be 
enjoyed ; the nearest approach to it is when the 
golden plover and snipe are in season, when good 
bags may be made in the swampy pastures on the 

The finest game bird in the country is, without 
doubt, fche wild muscovy duck. This magnificent 
bird grows to an enormous size, and it takes a 
very heavy charge and a very straight gun to 


bring down a full-grown drake in his flight. The 
size and fatness of these birds is astonishing, and 
they make a magnificent dish on the table. Birds 
weighing from six to eight pounds are frequently 
shot, and I have heard yarns of drakes reaching 
ten to twelve pounds ; I have never myself seen 
them larger than eight pounds ; but that was quite 
big enough to satisfy me. 

There are also some smaller teal ducks to be 
met with in the wet savannahs, which are beautiful 
in plumage and succulent when cooked. 

Amongst the myriads of birds which thrive in 
British Guiana none is stranger than the one 
called the hoatzin, canje pheasant, or stinking 
pheasant. This is a large handsome bird, re- 
sembling, as its name implies, the well-known 
pheasant of the English woods, and which is 
found in several parts of the colony. It is most 
plentiful in the Canje Creek, and lower Berbice 
Kiver : but they have also been met along the 
Cotinga River and on the Takutu. They are not 
eaten, as far as we know, by men or animals, 
owing to a peculiar and unpleasant odour exhaling 
from the flesh, especially when the bird is dead. 
But the great peculiarity of the hoatzin lies in 
the fact that it is a species apart, a sort of survival 
from antediluvian times : it is distinctly archaic, 
presenting affinities not only with many extinct 
kinds of birds, but also with the lower classes of 
the batrachians and reptiles. 

Of large game few are killed; jaguars are 
common, but are only destroyed when they become 


a nuisance by destroying cattle. They are very 
bold, and come quite near to town in search of 
their prey. c y r y, 

Mr. David Spence, an overseer on one of the 
sugar estates, is a noted tiger slayer (the jaguars 
and all the great cats are locally called tigers). 
He has killed many tigers at the back of the 
estates on the east coast : one at Plantation 
" Ogle," only three miles from Georgetown, which 
measured eight feet from the nose to the end of 
the tail. The jaguar is the handsomest of the 
great cats : he is taller and stouter than a leopard, 
and his tail is shorter. There are several kinds 
of leopards in the interior of the colony, one quite 
black, and another with a curious mottled and 
striped skin, which is called the " clouded tiger." 
There is a mysterious beast in the forest called 
by the native Indians the " waracabra tiger." All 
travellers in the forests of Guiana speak of this 
dreaded animal, but strange to say, none of them 
appear to have seen it. The Indians profess the 
greatest terror of it. It is said to hunt in packs 
(which tigers never do), and when its howls 
awake the echoes of the forest, the Indians at 
once take to their canoes and wood skins as the 
only safe refuge from its ravages. Mr. C. Barring- 
ton Brown, in his book " Canoe and Camp Life 
in British Guiana," says that one day, when he 
was on the Curiebrong Eiver, a branch of the 
Massaruni, he had a curious encounter with these 
animals. To quote his words : " I was busy writing 
letters when my attention was attracted by our 


two dogs, which had been tied up, barking furiously, 
followed by a great stir in the camp. Then some 
voices proclaimed loudly, ' The tigers are coming ! ' 
and one man called to me to come down as quickly 
as possible to the boats and bring my gun. 

" Thinking at the moment that a couple of 
jaguars had been heard close by, I seized my gun 
and made a rush down the slope, eager to get a 
shot at one, when, to my surprise, I found the 
beach deserted. Where some twenty Indians had 
been camped, there was now not even a hammock 
left ; all had suddenly and completely vanished, 
leaving only a stray hammock -pole and the 
smouldering fires. My men had all taken to the 
boat, and had it afloat, with the bow barely 
grounded, in readiness to shove off. They greeted 
me with cries of, ' Quick, quick ! the waracabra 
tigers are coming ! ' There was quite a flutter of 
relief amongst them when the boat was pushed 
off into mid-stream, when they all began to talk 
excitedly over our escape. The dogs still gave 
tongue, and were even more excited than the men, 
the hair on their backs standing erect as they 
sniffed the air in the direction of the camp. I 
eagerly inquired what were waracabra tigers, and 
was hastily informed they were small but ex- 
ceedingly ferocious tigers ; that they hunted in 
packs, and were not frightened by camp fires or 
anything except the barking of dogs. We crossed 
the river, and as we stopped a shrill scream rent the 
air from the opposite side of the river, not two 
hundred yards above our camp, and waking up echoes 


in the forest, died away as suddenly as it rose. This 
was answered by another cry, coming from the 
depths of the forest, the intervals being filled up 
by low growls and trumpeting sounds, which smote 
most disagreeably on the ear. Gradually the cries 
became fainter and fainter, as the band retired from 
our vicinity, till they utterly died away. Seeing 
nothing of them, and hearing their diabolical 
screams, I pictured them in my mind as a withering 
scourge sweeping through the forest. The call of 
these animals resembles that of the waracabra or 
trumpet bird (Psophia crepitans), hence they have 
obtained the name of waracabra tigers. The 
Accawoio Indians call them y'agamisheri, and say 
that they vary in size as well as in colour. As many 
as a hundred have been seen in a pack." 

Mr. Bernard told me that a similar adventure 
with waracabra tigers occurred to him up the 
Massaruni Eiver. 

These strange animals cannot be felidoe, as they 
are never known to hunt in packs. Their screams 
recall recollections of the packs of jackals in India; 
so I suspect they must be animals of the jackal or 
wolf tribe, especially as they are said to live in the 
mountains, and only come to the low land in the 
dry season, and when pressed by hunger. I was 
reading the other day about the wild dogs in India, 
which are detested by the shikari, as they sweep 
whole districts of game, and even attack the 
imperial tiger in his lair. It is possible these 
waracabra tigers may be a similar species. 

There are three kinds of deer which are 


frequently met with and shot on the savannahs, 
but their flesh is, as a rule, dry and tasteless. Two 
kinds of wild pigs roam through the forests, the 
wild boar and collared peccary, locally known as 
the karouni and abouya ; the tapir crashes through 
the undergrowth and rolls in the mud on the banks 
of the forest pools, but it is a long and tedious pro- 
cess to get within shot of any of them. Sometimes, 
indeed, droves of wild hogs invade the provision 
grounds on the banks of the rivers, and are 
slaughtered in great numbers by the infuriated 

Animals of the monkey tribe are, of course,, 
exceedingly common. The red howling baboons 
assemble in flocks, and make night hideous with 
their strange roarings. When I was living in 
Essequibo, an oronoque tree opposite my bedroom 
windows was sometimes alive with a flock of the 
lovely little sackiwinkie monkeys. Green and 
black-tailed monkeys were always to be found 
within a mile of my house. I have often shot 
monkeys, but I was cured of this bad habit in 1879. 
Walking aback of Belfield, in Essequibo, I shot at 
a monkey which was climbing up the trunk of a 
tree, and brought it to the ground. I went up to 
where it fell, and saw it sitting on the ground with 
the most piteous expression of countenance I ever 
saw. The tears were running down its cheeks ; it 
was uttering a low moaning sound, and gazing into 
my face, pointed to its breast, whence the blood 
was oozing through the wounds which I had caused, 
as much as to say, " Oh, cruel man ! see what you 


have done ! " I was filled with remorse, had the 
poor beast taken to my house, bound up its wounds 
and nursed it, but without avail ; the poor animal 
died the same night. I have never since that day 
fired at a monkey. 

Iguanas are common all over the colony, and 
are shot or trapped for the table, as they make a 
delicious fricassee or curry, almost rivalling the 
celebrated crapauds which I enjoyed in Dominica. 

Guiana is the home of the great snakes. The 
huge anacondas and pythons reach their greatest 
bulk in the moist forests of the interior, but they 
are frequently met, and of a large size too, on the 
coast. I have killed and seen killed many camou- 
dies, as they are locally called. The largest I ever 
saw was eighteen feet long, and as thick as a man's 
thigh. This one was measured immediately after 
death. Skins are not to be trusted for measure- 
ment, as they are very supple, and can be stretched 
when drying to one-third more than their natural 
length. I have, however, no doubt that anacondas 
have been seen and killed in Guiana more than 
thirty feet in length. I have only once known a 
camoudie attack a man. A coolie was getting 
water by the side of a water-path, when a camoudie 
shot over him and wrapped itself round his body 
and left arm. Fortunately his right arm was left 
free, so, seizing his cutlass, he chopped the snake 
with it and severed its backbone, which rendered 
it powerless. The snake was only eight feet long, 
and why it attacked the man I cannot imagine. 
When I was living in Essequibo the camoudies 


used to eat all my ducks. One day when I was in 
my bath I heard the cook calling out, " Master, 
master, come quick ! " so, picking up my gun, I 
rushed downstairs into the compound, and saw a 
great commotion in the water of the trench behind 
the house, and the wing of a duck showing above 
water. I fired both barrels into the turmoil, and 
killed a young camoudie nearly five feet long, and 
also a fat duck which had been seized by the snake, 
but which I recovered and subsequently ate for my 
dinner. In my excitement I had forgotten my 
condition, but the giggling of the women and girls 
who had collected reminded rne that I was stark 
naked, so I bolted upstairs in some confusion. 
There are many other kinds of snakes of smaller 
dimensions, some of which are venomous, but I 
never heard of any fatal accident from their bites. 
Your dogs, however, are often killed by them when 
you are out shooting or hunting. 

There are also many beautiful snakes which 
are quite harmless, but which are always destroyed 
by the ignorant, who have the impression that all 
snakes are dangerous. Eattlesnakes are very 
common in some parts of the colony, and are 
dangerous when irritated. 

Coming back to my sporting reminiscences, I 
remember that the fishing was very good at certain 
times and places. It was only about the time of 
my arrival in the colony that any attempts were 
made to catch fish with the artificial fly, although 
it was well known that the native Indians some- 
times caught fish by skimming a hook, to which 


two or three bright-coloured feather shreds were 
attached, backwards and forwards over the water. 
However, it was soon discovered that several fish 
would rise at a fly, and some good sport was 
experienced. The finest fish for sporting purposes 
is the cuffum, a large fish of the herring species. 
My old friend, B. J. Godfrey, always asserted that 
it is the same fish as the tarpon, which affords 
such splendid sport in the lagoons of Florida, and 
I believe he was right. It is a handsome fish, 
silvery, like a salmon, with large scales, and the 
gamest fish I ever hooked. He has been caught 
in our rivers and creeks up to 20 Ibs. in weight, 
and when hooked he makes some determined 
rushes. When he finds he cannot free himself, he 
makes tremendous leaps in the air, coming down 
with a splash that makes you tremble for your 
tackle. The cuffum has a bony palate, and the 
sides of his mouth are like parchment, so that it 
is very difficult to hook him securely. A dozen 
fish may be touched for one that is landed. He 
is generally caught with a red and white mackerel 
or gaudy salmon fly ; but the largest fish are 
caught with live bait, like trolling for pike. As 
I have said, I have never known cuffum caught 
with a rod over 20 Ibs. in weight ; but I have seen 
a fish over 5 ft. in length, which was caught in 
a net off the mouth of the Mahaica Creek. 

The lukananni is a beautiful fish, something 
like an English perch, and is a most excellent fish 
for the table when fresh caught; unlike the cuffum, 
which is rather poor and bony. The lukananni 


are very plentiful in the creeks when the water is 
running off the savannahs, and the fish are making 
their way into the rivers. They are caught with 
a large trout or small salmon fly, and are very 
game so long as they are running under water or 
leaping above it. If, however, after a few minutes' 
playing, you can get their heads above water, they 
open their large mouths, and seem to get helpless 
for a time, and may then be caught in the landing- 
net, so long as the line is not slackened for an 
instant. They are caught from J Ib. to 6 Ibs. in 
weight. They are a bold fish, and bite freely, 
generally taking the fly under water. Their 
mouths are large, so the flies used should not be 
small ; and as the waters of the colony are all 
dark, it is desirable to work with bright-hued flies. 
I have known some excellent sport with luka- 
nanni. Mr. George Bagot, of Annandale, killed 
in one day over 100 fish, from 1 Ib. to 6 Ibs. in 
weight. Mr. M. Keppel North and myself in two 
days caught 155 lukananni, weighing from f Ib. 
to 5 Ibs. each, average weight about li Ibs., all 
with the artificial fly. We only fished for about 
five hours each day. On another occasion, Captain 
Arnott, Mr. John Menzies, and myself caught 
172 lukananni in one day. 

Lukananni bite best from 7 to 10 a.m., and from 
4 to 6 p.m. The cuffum prefers the very early 
morning and late evening, and may be caught on 
moonlight nights with an artificial white moth. 
The best rod for both fish is a short salmon-rod, 
with long tapering salmon-line. There are some 


other kinds of fish, which are sometimes caught 
when trying for nobler game. The warrow, which 
is a very fair table-fish, and almost as game as a 
trout, which it resembles in shape, though its 
blackish colour compares unfavourably with the 
speckled beauties of our home streams and lakes. 
This fish rises freely at a red mackerel-fly with 
most of the white wings cut off, which I imagine 
they took for the scarlet dragon-fly of the colony, 
and it was after seeing several of these risen at 
I tried this lure. They run very evenly just over 
,\ Ib. each, and rise freely in the early morning in 
perfectly still water, where no lukananni would 
stir, if the fly was thrown so as to drop lightly 
under or close to the sedges on the further bank. 

The wabri is an inferior fish of a deep, flat 
shape. It is tolerably game, though it does not 
leap like the three first-named fish. It is generally 
caught with bait, but will take a fly. I have 
taken none over Ib. 

The sun-fish will take a bright-coloured fly in 
rather shallow water. A fair fish for the table, 
and handsome, but not very game when hooked. 
Weighs from i Ib. to f Ib. 

The dog-fish is a savage-looking pike-like fish, 
beautifully shot with changing colours when fresh 
out of the water. I have caught a few when 
fishing for lukananni, and they made a good fight 
for their size, which was rarely over i Ib. 

When upon a fishing excursion as fish in the 
tropics will not keep more than two or three hours 
we erect a barbacote and smoke all the fish 


that we cannot eat at the time. These smoked 
fish will keep for a long time, and make excellent 
soup, or, if soaked in water for a short time, are 
good fried with butter. There are some excellent 
fish caught in the rivers of the interior by the 
Indians with night and spring-lines, and by 
poisoning the water, such as the haimaira, the 
pacu, and the low-low the latter, a huge fish, is 
sometimes caught from 50 Ibs. to 70 Ibs. in weight ; 
but these are no use for sporting purposes. A 
low-low was caught at Christianburg, on the 
Demerara Kiver, in March, 1886, 9 ft. long, 4 ft. in 
girth ; fins 13 ins. by 10 ins., and width of mouth 
18 ins. Cartaback may be caught with a rod 
and line, if you bait with kneaded bread or paste, 
and let your bait float on the surface of the water. 
These fish abound in the Essequibo and Massaruni 
rivers, and sometimes scale 5 Ibs. to 6 Ibs. 

It is difficult to say when is the best time for 
fly-fishing. In the middle of the dry season, 
when the savannahs have drained into the creeks, 
I have always found to be a good time to fish. 
When there is too much water the people say, "The 
fish wa'ak in the savan." Cufium and lukananni 
can only be caught in running water ; it is no use 
fishing for them when the water is stagnant. 
Warrow, sun-fish, and wabri, on the other hand, 
seem to prefer the still water. 

A day's fishing in Demerara would surprise 
old Isaac Walton and his friend Cotton. No 
walking by pellucid streams, ruffled by the cool 
March winds. The angler, tossing in his 


hammock, is awakened by the roaring of the 
red howling baboons, just as the break of dawn 
reddens the Eastern skies. After a hasty toilet 
and a cup of steaming coffee, as soon as there 
is light enough to see his flies, our fisherman 
sallies out with his rod, to cast his line in the 
brown waters of the Lama or Maduni. Clad in 
the lightest garments, his head protected from 
the sun by a wide felt wide-awake, he is a prey to 
innumerable mosquitoes and sand-flies, which bite 
and sting at their pleasure. Before 8 a.m. the 
fierce horizontal rays of the sun burn his back, 
arms, and hands, so that they become swollen and 
scarlet, and, reflected from the water, take the 
skin off his nose. Still the undaunted sportsman 
feels indifferent to all these disagreeables if he 
hooks a cuffum of ten pounds, and sees the sun 
sparkling on his silver scales as he leaps madly 
into the air, trying to rid himself of the cruel hook 
embedded in his jaw, or hears the scream of his 
reel, and feels with a thrill of excitement the mad 
rush of a five-pound lukananni boring its way 
through the brown water. 

As in England, fish are capricious. Some 
days they allow themselves to be caught with 
ease, at other times they are sulky or off their feed, 
and refuse the most tempting lure. '* Patience 
and perseverance " is the motto for the angler in 
Demerara, as elsewhere. 

Considerable excitement was caused in London 
society a year or two ago when it was announced 
that one of the large snakes at the Zoo had 


swallowed one of its companions but little smaller 
than itself. A similar circumstance happened at 
the museum in Georgetown in 1887, where a 
decisive combat took place between a small boa- 
constrictor and a large yellow-tail snake. The 
yellow-tail was placed in the cage with the boa, 
which immediately seized the intruder round the 
neck and body, in order to constrict it. The 
yellow-tail objected to this so strenuously that he 
forced asunder the grasp of the boa, and, seizing it 
by the head, placed himself outside of his assailant ; 
so the boa paid the penalty of his rashness, and 
afforded a meal for his opponent. When I saw 
the yellow-tail a few days afterwards, he seemed 
quite well-furnished and comfortable. 

The left bank of the Essequibo Eiver, for thirty 
miles before it debouches into the Atlantic Ocean, 
was, at one time, a garden of fertility ; no fewer 
than forty-two estates were located on its shores. 
It was called in old times the Aroabisce coast, 
which has since been corrupted into Arabian, but 
was commonly known to the populace as Capoey, 
from a creek of that name in the centre of the 
district, where the old county jail was situated. 
In what are called the good old days, the whole 
coast was under cultivation ; and, as each of the 
forty-two estates had a manager and one or two 
overseers, there was a lively interchange of hospi- 
talities, and meetings for the purposes of horse- 
racing and cock-fighting, with the usual accom- 
paniment of innumerable sangarees. There are 
three or four small lakes a few miles aback of the 



estates, surrounded by low sand-hills. On the banks 
of these lakes the planters erected small wooden 
shanties, where they could sling their hammocks, 
and to which they used to resort from Saturday to 
Monday, and on public holidays, and pass the time 
in card-playing, drinking, bathing, and generally 
cooling out. 

A racecourse was laid out near the Capoey 
Lake, where the planters rode their Creole ponies 
and mules in friendly rivalry. 

But emancipation, the fall in the price of sugar, 
and the great expense attending the employment 
of East Indian immigrants, led to the ruin of scores 
of plantations ; so, one by one, the beautiful fertile 
estates on the coast dropped out of cultivation. 
When I was Sheriff of Essequibo, from 1877 to 
1882, there were only thirteen estates in existence 
which were making sugar ; and now these have 
been reduced to seven, through the amalgamation 
of two or three estates into one, which, however, 
by improved cultivation and machinery produce 
almost as much sugar as the previous thirteen. 
But although we could only boast of a reduced 
number of estates, and consequent managers and 
their subordinates, the coast had not degenerated 
from its ancient hospitality and desire to make 
life endurable under a tropical sky. The races on 
the old Capoey racecourse were revived ; monthly 
dances were given by the leading planters and 
officials ; a small billiard and reading club was 
started at Zorg ; and there was a general freedom 
of intercourse and pronounced joviality, which 


sometimes rather scandalized our more prudish 
colonists from town. 

Practical jokes were not unknown, and dinner- 
parties often bore a close resemblance to the 
ancient feasts of the Centaurs and Lapithae. On 
one festive occasion, at the house of a leading 
planter, dinner was only half over when a stalwart 
Scotch manager mounted on the dining-table, and, 
dancing a reel, kicked the wine-glasses into the 
faces of the guests. These naturally retaliated with 
tumblers and decanters, when the table, suddenly 
giving way in the centre, precipitated the dancer 
to the ground, with several of the other guests, 
and amidst the debris of the dinner, the whole 
ending in a general scrimmage. I need not say 
there were no ladies at these feasts. 

The same terpsichorean gentleman once har- 
nessed a pair of bullocks to a friend's waggon, 
instead of his horses ; so when his friend left the 
house on a dark night, under the influence of an 
excellent dinner and several stirrup cups, he was 
carried whither he would not, and, despite all his 
tugging and multiform swearing, was landed in a 
cattle-shed by his astonished steeds. I am afraid 
we were rather a wild lot on the coast in those 
days ; and our pastors, whatever we may say about 
our masters, were, as a rule, of the sign-post 
order, pointing the way, but not troubling to go 

From these strictures on the clergy, I am glad 
to be able to exempt two holy and noble men, who 
blessed the coast with their labours, viz. the 


Venerable Dean Austin and the Eev. William 
Brett, the apostle of the Indians two men who 
would have adorned any ministry in any country. 
The Eev. William Austin, Eural Dean of Esse- 
quibo, was cousin to the first Lord Aberdare, and 
also to the first Bishop of Guiana. He was, when I 
knew him, a singularly tall, handsome, and benevo- 
lent old man, with long grey hair falling to the 
collar of his coat. He had been rector of St. 
John's Church in Essequibo for fifty years, during 
which time he had only once taken a holiday to 
the old country. He was simple in his habits, and 
was like a venerable patriarch of the olden time. 
He belonged to the old evangelical school, and had 
no sympathy with ritualism or sacerdotalism. It 
was a pleasant sight to see him standing at the* 
west door of his church on Sunday mornings 
welcoming all the people that came to church, 
rich or poor, black or white ; and when he saw the 
church beginning to fill he would look at his watch 
and say to the old verger, " I think we may begin 
now, Thomas; bring me my surplice, " which he 
donned, talking pleasantly all the time. The 
church was, of course, open all round, and as we sat 
in our pews we could look out into the blazing sun- 
shine, and see the lizards darting over the silent 
graves, and the kiskadees quarrelling in the mango 
trees. Three large sand-box trees towered along- 
side the sacred edifice, in whose welcome shade 
waggons, buggies, and other traps were grouped, 
awaiting their owners. During service goats 
belonging to the neighbours had an unfortunate 


habit of invading the church and disturbing our 
devotions. I remember on one occasion the 
Venerable Dean was reading the first lesson, when 
he suddenly stopped and called out, " Thomas, 
Thomas, why don't you drive that goat out of my 
waggon ; don't you see it is eating the cushions ? " 
and, as Thomas departed on his errand, the lesson 
was resumed. 

There were three medical districts on the 
coast, and it was a curious fact that out of the 
medical officers in charge at different times no less 
than three became insane, and two committed 
suicide, during the four years of my shrievalty. 

Our communication with the rest of the colony 
was effected by a small paddle-steamer, which left 
the capital on three days every week at 7 a.m., 
reaching the coast about noon, and returning the 
same day. My first visit to the Arabian coast was 
under rather exciting circumstances. 

In October, 1872, a serious riot had taken place 
on Plantation Devonshire Castle at the extreme 
north of the coast; a conflict had taken place 
between the armed police and the East Indian 
immigrants, in which nine of the latter had been 
killed and several wounded. A company of the 
West Indian Eegiment had been sent down and 
quartered on the estate. In consequence of the 
inquiry which was taking place in Georgetown in 
December, 1872, 1 was ordered by the Governor to 
go down at once and take over the whole district 
during the absence of the regular magistrates, who 
were summoned to the inquiry. I received my 


orders at 10 p.m., and as the steamer left at 7 
a.m. next morning, there was not much time to 
lose ; but I was up to time, and at 7 a.m. we 
cast off from the stelling, and were soon steaming 
down the muddy waters of the Demerara River 
towards the broad Atlantic on my way to the 
Arabian coast of Essequibo. In those days the 
steamer stopped at Airey Hall, about two miles 
from Suddie, where are the Government head- 
quarters, court house, gaol, barracks, etc. 

I was met by the inspector of police for the 
county, who drove me to Suddie, where I found 
every one on the alert, sentries posted, and the 
police armed with Enfield rifles and ball cartridge. 
After luncheon the inspector and myself drove 
down the coast. We were both armed with re- 
volvers, and armed and mounted orderlies trotted 
on each side of our waggon. I found these pre- 
cautions irksome and unnecessary, and after the 
first day of my stay abolished them, and went 
about unattended and unarmed. At Devonshire 
Castle, eighteen miles from Suddie, we found a 
company of the 2nd West Indian Eegiment and a 
large body of police. As the riot was effectually 
quelled, I had no occasion to call out the men for 
any service except sentry-go for the protection of 
the manufactories and public buildings, as the 
coolies had threatened to burn them down. A 
schooner was kept riding at anchor off Suddie, so 
that in case of the general rising, of which we were 
warned, the white women and children might be 
placed in safety. 


One amusing incident occurred of which I was 
the victim. As everything seemed quiet and no 
danger was apprehended, we somewhat relaxed our 
precautions. I was staying at the Court House in 
the judge's lodgings, over which a sentry was 
placed day and night. A password and countersign 
were daily issued by me, and the sentries were 
ordered to shoot any one who attempted to pass at 
night without giving the password. 

I had been dining with the sheriff, and was 
returning to my quarters cheerfully with a cigar in 
my mouth about 11 p.m., when I was confronted 
by the black sentry, who, bringing his rifle down 
to the order, called out, " Who go dere?" I 
was somewhat startled. I had forgotten the 
sentry, and, what was worse, I had entirely for- 
gotten the password. I knew that the sentries 
were picked men, generally Africans, who had 
served in a West Indian regiment, and who were 
noted for strict obedience to orders ; so I knew 
if he had been ordered to shoot any one who tried 
to pass without giving the word, he would do so to 
a moral. This was pleasant! I attempted to 
temporize. "Look here, you know me, my good 
man." " What de word ? " shouted the sentry, 
rattling his arms. That was just what I wanted to 
know. I heard the man cock his rifle, and knew 
he would let drive at me in another minute, so I 
made an undignified stragetic movement to the 
rear, so as to place the inspector's house betwixt 
myself and the enemy. Satisfied by this manoeuvre 
that I was a dangerous character, the sentry began 


to stalk me round the building, with his gun in 
both hands ready for action. As soon as I got 
round the inspector's house, I bolted up the back 
steps like a lamp-lighter and broke in upon the 
astonished inspector, who was just turning into 
bed. At first he thought that another riot had 
broken out, and was hurrying into his trousers and 
shouting for his sword, but I stopped him by telling 
him the absurd dilemma I was in. He roared 
with laughter, and it was some time before he could 
recover sufficiently to tell me the password for the 
day. Armed with this, I looked out cautiously and 
saw my friend prowling round the house, waiting 
to have a pot shot at me in case I should bolt. 1 
shouted out the word to him, and, the inspector 
coming down with me, we satisfied the sentry that 
I was an honest citizen, and I went up to my 
quarters. The next morning I sent for the man, 
who began to express his sorrow for having 
" troubled me," but I stopped him, telling him he 
was a first-rate sentry, and gave him five shillings. 
The inquiry in Georgetown was at length 
concluded, and the resident magistrates returned 
to the coast. The Sheriff of Essequibo at that 
time was Mr. W. H. Humphreys, a man about 
sixty-five years of age, who had served the colony 
well for nearly forty years. He was somewhat 
eccentric in his manners and conversation. I 
remember when I went to look him up at Maria's 
Lodge, where he then lived, to report on my 
doings during his absence, he met me standing 
in the gallery : as I mounted the steps, and 


before I could grasp his outstretched hand, he 
said, " Eed or white ? " " What ? " I exclaimed, 
my wide-opened eyes expressing my surprise. 
" Red or white?" he repeated, as I grasped his 
welcoming hand. I was at a loss. Were red and 
white the colours respectively of Tory and Eadical 
in the county, or were they the mystic symbols of 
some occult society? "I beg your pardon," I 
stammered, "but I don't understand." "Will 
you take red gin or white gin ? " And then I knew 
that the sheriff was upholding the old hospitable 
custom of the country of meeting the guest on 
the threshold with a drink, and helping him to 
depart with a stirrup cup. 

I have spoken already of the Rev. William 
Austin, rector of St. John's. One of his daughters, 
Miss Anna Austin, has devoted her life to a small 
mission school at the mouth of the Iturabisce 
Creek, not far from St. John's Church. Here this 
exemplary woman has lived for years, surrounded 
by the gentle Indian people, whose children she 
has taught to read and sew, whose wives she has 
protected when the men were away, fishing and 
wood-cutting. She has been a sort of protecting 
goddess to these poor people, a small remnant of 
the once great Arawak tribe. This good lady 
nurses the sick, advises and guides the whole 
community, teaches the children, and by her 
example and precept prevents crime and immo- 
rality. Her people are devotedly attached to her, 
and her sole recompense has been their love and 
devotion. Miss Austin was no austere religieuse ; 


she was a jolly, plump lady, with a beaming smile, 
and always ready for any reasonable amusement. 
I can recall two or three merry evenings at the 
mission, when we used to dance in the school- 
room, the open windows and doors almost blocked 
up by the faces of the Indian women and children, 
who were curious to see how the "buckras" 
enjoyed themselves. 

( 107 ) 


Monotony of life Trips in the bush Pomeroon journey Tappacooma 
Lake Aripiaco Creek Cabacaburi Mission Mr. and Mrs.- Heard 
Medora Bishop Austin Maccaseema McClintock Indian 
Chief Im Thurn Bivouac Benaboo Howling baboons Carib 
Settlement Piwarrie Captain Jeffreys Indian names Samboura 
Cooking under difficulties Indian dance A sunken boat 
Anna Begina Onomatopoetic birds Supernaam Indian Mission 
Sermon Huis t' Dieren Boiler explosion Manslaughter Coolie 

I HAVE spoken in another place of the monotony 
of life in British Guiana. This is sometimes 
broken by pleasant trips into the bush for shooting 
and exploring. Visitors to the colony have 
expressed surprise that more of these trips are 
not taken by the inhabitants ; but we are a busy 
people, and have some difficulty in getting away 
from our work, and besides, the truth is, that such 
trips are very expensive : boats and boatmen have 
to be hired ; all provisions have to be carried with 
you ; hammocks, cooking utensils, etc., provided. 
Even a short trip of three or four days will cost 
a party of four twenty-five dollars a-head. 

During my sojourn in the colony I enjoyed 
many excursions into the bush, but as they were 
more or less alike, I will only give one in detail, 


which may be taken as a sample of the rest. In 
1880 we went for a jolly trip up the Pomeroon 
Eiver. Our party consisted of Sir Charles B. 
Mitchell, now G.C.M.G., and Governor of the 
Straits Settlements ; Charlie Forbes, brother-in- 
law to Sir Cornelius Kortright, at that time 
Governor of the colony; W. F. Bridges, a 
magistrate in Berbice ; Wm. Shields, manager of 
La Belle Alliance, and myself. Our rendezvous 
was at Shields' place, as he had agreed to lend us 
a boat and provide paddlers. So one morning at 
6 a.m. we found ourselves on the side line dam 
of La Belle Alliance, with our hammocks and 
other impedimenta. Here we found a somewhat 
old tent boat awaiting us, and five black men as 
paddlers, whose appearance did not impress any 
of us very favourably. However, we packed our 
traps in the boat as well as we could, which was 
not an easy matter. There were five of us, and 
five of the crew ; we all had hammocks to sleep 
in, a change of clothes in case of getting wet ; 
rugs and blankets for the hammocks, as the early 
mornings are damp and chilly when one camps 

We had to carry food for us all for five days, 
not forgetting drinks; a frying-pan, saucepans, 
etc., for cooking; besides a couple of guns with 
cartridges, fishing-rods and sketching materials. 
However, everything was stowed away at last^ 
and we started up the water-path, which brings 
fresh water to the estate from the Tappacooma 
Lake, a sheet of water partly natural, partly 


artificial, which supplies the estates of North 
Essequibo with fresh water. We reached the 
lock at eleven, where we breakfasted, and starting 
in an hour we soon crossed the lake, which is 
about two miles in breadth, stopping at the over- 
flow on the western side. Here we unloaded our 
boat, and dragging it up and down two ladders 
constructed for that purpose, we launched it again 
into the Tappacooma Creek, a small stream which 
runs down towards the Pomeroon. The creek 
was very narrow and tortuous, and overhung with 
dense forest growth, so that in some places it 
was almost dark, although the sun was high in 
the heavens ; innumerable llianes threatened to 
destroy our tent, which we had to remove ; and 
it was necessary to keep a sharp look out and 
have a cutlass handy to prevent ourselves from 
being dragged out of the boat by the strong bush 
ropes. Frogs were croaking in all directions, the 
shrill cry of the cicada echoed through the forest \ 
great metallic sky-blue butterflies flitted lazily 
through the gloom, as we twisted and turned 
through the dark brown water. At length the 
creek grew wider and we debouched into the 
Aripiaco, a fine stream about two hundred yards 
wide, and bordered on both sides by dense forests. 
Merrily we paddled along ; Mitchell seized a 
paddle and worked away with a will, whilst we all 
joined in one of the wild Creole boat-songs, which 
always seem to infuse double energy into the 
paddlers' arms. At the rate we travelled, our day's- 
journey was soon over, and at 5 p.m. we turned 


into the broad waters of the Pomeroon, which at 
its junction with the Aripiaco is a fine river, a 
quarter of a mile wide. Turning to the left, half 
an hour's pull brought us to the landing-place of 
the Cabacaburi Mission, which is placed on a small 
hill on the right bank of the river. Here we 
were welcomed by Mr. Heard, the missionary, and 
carried by him up to his house, where we were most 
hospitably entertained by Mrs. Heard and her 
charming daughter, Nellie Townsend. 

The mission buildings are, of course, all con- 
structed of wood. The missionary is his own 
architect, and the whole work has been done by 
the Indians under his guidance. They consist of 
a roomy house for the missionary's family, with 
some outhouses ; a pretty little church, a school- 
room, school-master's house, and a number of 
Indian benabs, where the inmates of the mission 
and visitors can sling their hammocks and cook 
their food. And surely no monarch of the earth 
had ever a more glorious resting-place than these 
children of the forest. Their graveyard is a splendid 
grove of bamboos, which has been so cleared that 
the great graceful plants form groups of fluted 
columns, their magnificent fronds meeting over- 
head from all sides, exactly like the crypt in some 
mediaeval minster. 

It was refreshing to meet people who were so 
thoroughly happy and useful as these good mission- 
aries. One would have expected that ladies, banished 
into the wilderness, would have taken up their 
cross, performed their duty with a smile, thinking 


their life was a martyrdom for Christ's sake. But 
with Mrs. Heard and Miss Townsend the mission 
was a labour of love ; they were devoted to the 
Pomeroon, they loved the river and Cabacaburi; 
they made friends of the gentle Indians, and taught 
them, not only to read, write, and spell, but trained 
them to habits of temperance and chastity; and 
what was perhaps harder still, attempted to train 
the boys to regular labour in their fields and 

We slung our hammocks in the schoolroom, 
and at 7 p.m. sat down to a sumptuous dinner, 
which Mrs. Heard provided. Creole soup began 
the feast, followed by many luxuries, amongst which 
figured the dainty duraquarra and noble powis, 
and other delicate birds and fishes of the forest 
and stream. We were waited upon by two charm- 
ing young Indian maidens with bare feet and ankles, 
clad in neat print gowns, with their splendid black 
hair neatly braided and tied with coloured ribbons. 
One of them had been named Medora at her 
baptism. She was a pretty girl, with a sweet 
expression, and a great friend of mine. Once, when 
our dear old Lord Bishop (Austin) was paying a 
pastoral visit to Cabacaburi, Medora had been 
instructed by Mrs. Heard to call the Bishop " My 
Lord," when she spoke to him. The little maid 
was anxious to learn and to please, but was some- 
what appalled at the six feet three inches of aproned 
humanity which the good bishop presented to her 
view ; so at dinner, in handing him the mustard, 
she forgot her lesson in its entirety, and said, 


" Please, God, will you have some mustard?" 
Naturally, this excited much mirth, in which the 
dear old man joined as freely as any one. I 
remember a somewhat similar occurrence on the 
Demerara railway. It was nearly dark, and the 
bishop was sitting opposite to me in a saloon 
carriage. As we stopped at Betterverwagting, 
some rude black women, as their custom then was, 
thrust their heads in at the windows to criticize 
the passengers. One of them catching sight of 
the bishop, who had a very large and striking 
appearance, exclaimed, " Ow, me Gad! what is 
dis ? " to whom another woman scornfully replied, 
" What ! You no know he ! Why, that me Lard 
Gad de Bishop. " 

But I am wandering away from Cabacaburi. 
After our dinner and a cigar, we were ready for 
our hammocks. Next morning saw us all up at 
five, when a run down the hill, a plunge into the 
river, and a cup of steaming hot coffee soon fitted 
us for another day's work. 

The black men from the coast had been very 
noisy and troublesome, had brought some rum 
with them, and they demanded so many things, 
and were so impudent, that we discharged them 
on the spot, and gave them a corial to take them 
back home. With Mr. Heard's help, we engaged 
a crew of Indians, who proved excellent boatmen, 
and good quiet fellows. We left Cabacaburi about 
eight, and pulling up the river about two miles 
we came to Maccaseema, the residence of the 
magistrate of the district. Here we landed, and 


went up a low hill to the house. It was a tumble- 
down old timber structure in bad repair, surrounded 
by trees and palms, and looking mouldy and un- 
healthy. The old magistrate met us on the steps, 
and welcomed us to his house. McClintock was 
a cadet of an old family in the north of Ireland, 
who had come out to Demerara as a planter, but 
not succeeding in that, and having a perfect mania 
for bush life, he accepted the office of post-holder 
and superintendent of rivers and creeks in the 
Pomeroon Kiver. He was a J.P., and when the 
superintendents were abolished, he was made 
special magistrate in the Pomeroon district. There 
he lived for forty years, isolated from all society 
and all amusements except, what he enjoyed most, 
shooting and fishing in the interminable forests of 
his district. He lived amongst and with the 
Indians ; attached to himself several Indian women, 
and lived a free and independent life. He was an 
upright, honest man ; a good painstaking magis- 
trate, although his work in that direction was not 
overwhelming, and despite his long isolation from 
his compeers, he always retained the manners and 
habits of a gentleman of birth and education. 

At the time we visited him, he was nearly 
seventy years of age, tall, with long grizzled locks 
and a matted beard and moustache, which looked 
as if it seldom saw a comb. After chatting for 
a short time, McClintock insisted upon our drink- 
ing something, and he produced from a corner of 
his gallery some bottles which looked like grimy 
old wine-bottles, and which he announced was 



some wine which he had bought when he was 
expecting a visit from his cousin, Admiral Sir 
Leopold McClintock. In vain we tried to excuse 
ourselves ; he insisted upon our drinking some, 
and rather than hurt his feelings we consented. 
He poured out hock and burgundy into tumblers, 
and presented us with the nectar, which we gulped 
down like medicine. Imagine our feelings ! The 
wine had stood on an end in a hot gallery for 
years ; the corks were dried up ; the wine was 
hopelessly ullaged, flat as ditch-water, sour as 
vinegar. We paid our host a hasty adieu, and 
hurried down the hill to the boat. Not a word was 
said until we were off, when we exchanged glances, 
and Shields broke out, " For God's sake, a glass 
of brandy ! " A flask was produced, and we took 
a good shot all round ; but I don't think that- 
glass of wine at Maccaseema will fade from our 
memories as long as life lasts. 

There is a good story told about old McClintock. 
When his cousin, the admiral, visited British 
Guiana, his flagship could not come within sixteen 
miles of the shore, owing to the shallow water. 
As the Bellerophon, with the admiral on board, 
was lying at anchor off the coast, rolling her yards 
nearly into the water, the quarter-master of the 
watch came up to the captain and, touching his 
cap, said, " Indian chief coming aboard, sir." The 
captain took his glasses, and sure enough saw a 
large canoe, propelled by a dozen Indians, approach- 
ing the ship ; in the stern of the ship sat a tall 
man in an odd-looking tall hat. The captain 


knocked at the admiral's cabin-door and reported, 
" Indian chief coming aboard, sir." " Very well," 
said the admiral ; " man the gangway to receive 
Indian chief." But when the canoe came along- 
side, it was seen that the supposed Indian chief 
was a white man in a very old-fashioned topper, 
who, when with some difficulty he climbed up the 
ladder on to the deck, asked to see his cousin, the 
admiral. This was McClintock, who, hearing that 
the flagship was lying out at sea, had ventured in 
one of his largest canoes to pay her a visit. 
McClintock retired a year or two after our visit, 
and his place was given to Mr. Everard im Thurn, 
an Oxford graduate, and a man of great literary 
ability and much taste. Im Thurn rebuilt Macca- 
seema, laid out the grounds with lovely shrubs 
and palms, loaded the verandah and surrounding 
trees with orchids, laid out a gravel tennis court, 
and made the place into a perfect paradise. When 
I stayed with him, in 1887, I was amazed at the 
change he had effected in the place in so short 
a time. But in the forests of G-uiana one must 
live in perpetual watchfulness against damp, 
insects, and parasitic growth. A few months of 
neglect will ruin a house and garden ; and when 
Mr. Im Thurn was promoted, and left Macca- 
seema, a very short time elapsed before it had fallen 
back into its old state. 

We left Maccaseema about ten o'clock, and, 
pulling up the river, we reached a sand bank about 
one o'clock, where we bivouacked and breakfasted. 
Mitchell and Bridges attacked a small dry tree 


with their cutlasses to make firewood ; but a 
couple of strokes brought down upon their devoted 
heads a shower of large black ants, which began 
biting them ferociously; they yelled and danced 
about, and at last took headers into the river, as 
the only way of getting rid of their tormentors. 
It was impossible to help laughing, although they 
suffered considerably. After breakfast we started 
again. The Porneroon, like most South American 
rivers, is a dark brown stream rushing down 
between interminable forests without a single 
break to vary the monotony. The banks are low 
and swampy, except when low sand ridges cross 
the line of the stream. This part of the colony 
is very thinly inhabited ; since leaving Maccaseema 
we had not seen a human being, nor a single buck 
hut; so as the Indian boatmen told us that we 
could not reach any settlement before dark, we 
prepared to camp out in the bush. About 4.30 
we reached a spot that was three feet above the 
water level, and which seemed dry and airy, so we 
landed. Selecting four trees, we cleared away the 
low scrub, and cutting four strong posts, we drove 
them into the ground, and leaned them against 
the trees, to which we bound them with strong 
bush-ropes; two or three poles were then laid 
across between the ends of the posts and the trees, 
so forming two strong cross-bars about six feet 
from the ground. 

Our hammocks were all slung side by side from 
ridge-pole to ridge-pole. We then cut a number 
of large troolie palm leaves, which grow twenty 


feet long, and, sticking the ends into the ground, 
we leaned them over the ridge-poles as that they 
met in the middle forming an arch, which made 
an excellent roof, and would have turned a sharp 
shower. The inside of the benaboo was strewn 
with dry palm leaves, the hammocks were slung 
up, and then all was ready for the night. The 
whole place was put up in less than an hour, and 
proved an excellent sleeping-place. Of course, 
with the exception of Forbes and Shields, we were 
good bushmen, and Forbes himself had spent 
several years on a sheep farm in Australia, so we 
were quite at home in our camp. A large fire was 
soon blazing; some saucepans were ranged over 
it, and already gave out symptoms of soup and 
stew. Two large logs were rolled up as seats, so 
when our dinner was ready we had a right merry 
meal, washed down with beer and brandy and 
water ; when dinner was over, innumerable songs 
and yarns, accompanied by many pipes, led us far 
into the night. It was calm and warm, a full 
moon riding in the sky, which was quite luminous, 
and showed out in strong relief the outline of 
every leaf over our heads. 

At last we turned into our hammocks, and I 
was dropping off to sleep when I was roused by 
the most infernal barking and roaring. Attracted 
by our fire and singing, a troop of howling baboons 
had come over the trees, and were making night 
hideous by their yells. Shields, who was not 
acquainted with the brutes, shook my hammock 
violently, and whispered, " What on earth is 


that?" Being somewhat vexed, I replied, 
" Tigers." " Are they very near?" "Very," 
said I, and taking advantage of a lull in the 
chorus, I dropped asleep. Poor Shields lay awake 
half the night, expecting to be devoured by wild 
beasts. He was sleepy and cross in the morning, 
when Bridges asked him if he had heard the 
baboons last night. " Oh, those were baboons, 
were they? What an awful noise they make! 
But what were they saying ? " " I don't know," 
replied Bridges. "I don't belong to the same 

We were up before sunrise, and found it cold 
and damp, the dew falling like rain, so a drop of gin 
and a hot cup of coffee were served out all round, 
and we were afloat as the heavens flushed with 
rosy light at the approach of the god of day. We 
paddled along all the day, the river being tortuous 
and much narrower. There was not much life to 
be seen, except some toucans, galdings, cranes, 
kingfishers, and humming birds, some of which we 
shot. We also bagged two ducklers, a kind 
of duck, but with a somewhat fishy flavour. At 
five p.m. we reached the first Carib settlement, 
situated on a sand hill about forty feet high. 
Here we landed, and received a visit from the 
Carib chief, who came to welcome us. He 
was accompanied by about thirty men and 
women, girls and boys. They are a fine race of 
Indians, taller and better made than any I had 
seen in the colony. The young, unmarried ladies 
were quite naked except for the small square 


queyo suspended from their waists; the married 
ones wore a short petticoat made of fibre, though 
one or two donned calico petticoats, which no 
doubt they had got at the mission, as Mrs. Heard 
would not allow them to land there without a 
skirt on. One young girl, just budding into 
womanhood, excited our admiration ; she was a 
perfect figure, like a brown Hebe. We were 
invited up to the settlement, where we found a 
number of large, well-built benabs, and about fifty 
Indians. They had some large fields of cassava, 
and seemed well nourished and contented. They 
were preparing for a piwarrie feast, to which we 
were invited the next evening; so all the old 
women were sitting round massive bowls chewing 
roasted cassava bread, and spitting it out into the 
bowls. It is then mixed with warm water, and 
soon ferments in the hot sun. To my mind it 
is a disgusting drink, but the Indians are very 
fond of it. To see a circle of old wrinkled hags 
sitting round a cauldron chewing the burnt 
cassava, the red liquor oozing out of the corners 
of their mouths, and running down their skinny 
breasts, as they, one by one, vomit out the 
contents of their mouths into the bowl, is not 
an appetizing spectacle. After that, a little 
piwarrie goes a long way. 

The chief gave us two benabs in which to 
sling our hammocks, so we were soon comfortably 
settled. This Carib chief, whose Indian name 
was as long as my arm, was generally known 
as Captain Jeffreys, and was as arrant an old 


scoundrel as ever I met. The bishop, in one of 
his trips to the Pomeroon, had fallen in with 
Jeffreys, had baptized him, and subsequently con- 
firmed him, so the old scoundrel used to go to 
meet the bishop, when visiting Cabacaburi, and 
take the sacrament with him. He was a fearful 
nuisance to me during our stay. I had charge 
of the grog ; so first thing in the morning he 
would come and squat at the foot of my hammock, 
put his hand on his stomach, groan and say he 
felt very bad. This was all to get brandy. At last 
I got tired of this arrangement, so I got a tumbler 
and filled it with rum, bitters, Worcester sauce, 
laudanum, and chlorodyne. I told Jeffreys it was 
good medicine, and he took it off like a man ; but 
he turned up again some hours afterwards, and 
said he wanted some more of that medicine, it had 
done him so much good. 

It is a curious thing that you can never 
discover an Indian's real name. It is given him 
with some solemnity when he is an infant, but 
he never divulges it, nor is he ever called by it. 
He is always known by some nickname or name of 
distinction for his prowess in war, hunting, or fishing. 

We, passed a quiet night, and next morning, 
leaving our heavy baggage under the charge of 
one of our men, we started up the river. The 
season had been unusually dry for the time of 
year, so the river was very low. We had paddled 
about two hours when our progress was stopped 
by two large trees, which had fallen across the 
stream and formed, with accumulated sand, a kind 


of dam. We were all ordered overboard, and by 
main force we dragged the old boat over the 
obstruction. Several times in the next three 
miles we were obliged to lighten the boat, till at 
last, beyond a spot called Samboura, we were 
forced to give up the attempt to proceed any 
further in our boat, the river being only navigable 
by Indian woodskins. Samboura is a pretty 
place ; the river here is full of granite rocks and 
sand banks, the water is beautifully clear, the 
banks high, and the forest growth dense and 
varied. We pulled up one little rapid, and, 
finding we could go no higher, we stopped and 
played about in the delicious water. We landed 
at the site of a deserted Indian camp, enjoyed a 
hearty luncheon, or late breakfast, and tried in 
vain to catch some lukananni. Setting our faces 
homewards, we paddled down to our last night's 
camp, the old boat leaking dreadfully all the way. 
When we reached our camp, I set to work to 
cook our dinner; and finding a large buck pot, 
a thought of some good Creole soup flashed across 
my mind; so, putting the pot on the fire with 
a quart of water inside, I put in a tin of meat, 
some sausages, tin of peas, some plantains and 
buck yams, with some salt and Worcester sauce, 
and left it to boil. Unfortunately, my scullery- 
maid, an Indian boy, seeing an open tin of 
sardines, thought it was a pity to waste it, so he 
turned it, oil and all, into the pot. However, the 
soup, when cooked, was pronounced good, and we 
enjoyed a hearty dinner. 


Afterwards we went up to the Carib settlement, 
and found the people beginning their piwarrie 
dance. They were already half drunk, and we saw 
enough both of their dance and themselves in a 
very short time. 

We turned into our hammocks and slept as 
well as we could amidst all the noise around us. 
The Indians fill themselves with piwarrie until 
they can hold no more, and then discharging it all 
out, begin afresh. After performing this feat several 
times, they become quite drunk and stupid. This 
may seem very savage and disgusting, but I have 
seen the students of the polished University of 
Heidelburg do the same thing when drinking beer. 
About 1 a.m. Mitchell came to my hammock, and, 
waking me up, told me our boat had filled with 
water and sunk in the river. This was pleasant, 
as she was the only link connecting us with 
civilization ; so as early as possible in the morning 
we were at work, bailed out the boat, drew her on 
shore, and proceeded to calk her seams with mud 
and grass ; and in this rotten craft we started 
homeward. After a long day's pull with the 
stream we reached Cabacaburi Mission about 
6 p.m. The boat certainly kept afloat, but we 
were obliged to bail away all the time. We spent 
the night at the mission, and the next day returned 
to the Essequibo coast by the Aripiaco and Tap- 
pacooma Lake, down the Anna Eegina water-path 
to the estate of that name, where we were 
hospitably entertained by the genial manager. 

In all countries and languages there are certain 


animals and birds which are known by names 
descriptive of the cries which they utter. British 
Guiana is no exception to this rule, in fact, the 
number of birds so familiarly named is somewhat 
large. Walking through the Botanic Gardens in 
the evening, cries of "Kill a cow! kill a cow! " 
are heard from the bush. This is a curious bird, 
known to the learned as Aramides cayennensis. 
Early in the morning, when you are tumbling out 
of your hammock near some Indian camp, your 
ears are assailed by cries of " Han-na-qua ! han-a- 
qua ! " the call of a pheasant-like bird, which gives 
it its name. The greenheart bird (Lathria cinerea) 
acquired its Indian name, pee-pee-yo, from the 
shrill cry it utters when swinging on a bough of 
its favourite tree. 

The powis, shypook, quaack, and qu'estceque 
dit, all derive their names from the various sounds 
which they give forth. The calf-bird, clothed in 
sober olive, prevents the weary traveller from 
sleeping, by imitating the bellowings of a cow 
deprived of its calf; whilst the bell-bird (Cam- 
panero) in the forest tolls the knell of a lost soul. 
The splendid hia-hia parrot acquired that name 
from its utterances as it raises its tartan frill and 
welcomes the rising sun. The birds known to the 
Creoles by the singular names of "work, work, work 
to hell 7 ' and " wife-sick" certainly give utterance to 
sounds resembling those words, and are rivalled, 
but not equalled, by the little songsters known as 
Tom Pitcher (Saltator magnus) and twa-twa. The 
latter is an aristocratic bird, as he is always 


obsequiously followed by an attendant, who is con- 
temptuously called " twa-twa slave, " but known to 
ornithologists as Qryzoborus torridus. 

But it is the goat-sucker family to which we 
must look for sounds most nearly approaching 
human utterances. As in Europe, the whip-poor- 
will gives out his plaintive note to the still evening 
air ; and it is rather startling to a new-comer to be 
greeted, as he steps out of his boat on the river's 
bank, by a pert little bird that exclaims, " Who 
are you ? who are you ? " There are two birds of 
this species (Nictibius), known as jumbi birds, whose 
cries exactly resemble the moaning and sobbing of 
some woman in great distress ; they utter pain- 
fully weird cries and shrieks, suggesting sometimes 
the awful agony and despair of lost souls, to the 
terror of youngsters and horror of adults. 

Another Indian mission, founded by the Church 
of Scotland, is established on a small sand hill up 
the Supernaam Creek, which falls into the Esse- 
quibo River about twelve miles to the south of 
Suddie. I paid a visit to this mission in 1880, in 
company with Doctor and Mrs. Forte and their 
children, and one of the leading planters on the 
coast. Mr. Walker, the gentleman in charge of 
the mission, received us very kindly, and placed 
his house at our disposal. There was a large 
wooden church, which could accommodate about 
three or four hundred people. The next day, 
which was Sunday, we were preparing to go to 
church, for which a large number of Indians were 
assembling, when Mr. Walker came to me, and 


asked me if I would say a few words to the congre- 
gation, as they would be glad to hear something 
from their sheriff. I agreed offhand, but was 
rather dismayed when in church, after he had 
prayed and read a chapter from the Bible, the 
good minister descended from his pulpit, came to 
my pew, and led me up into his place. There was 
no time to think, so I plunged boldly in medias res. 
Taking my text from the beginning of the Bible, 
" And God placed man in the Garden of Eden, to 
dress it and to keep it," I expatiated to my atten- 
tive hearers on the beauty of labour ; that God, in 
His wisdom, knew that Adam, even in Eden, would 
not have been happy, had he nothing for his hands 
to do, and had he been compelled to remain in 
idleness ; drawing the moral, that if idleness would 
turn even Eden into an abode of unhappiness, how 
much more would it be so here, where Satan is 
always finding some mischief for idle hands to do. 
I pointed out that life was not to be spent in 
idling in a hammock smoking, with an occasional 
carouse, but in useful labour, etc., etc. 

My planter friend was delighted with the dis- 
course. " Great Scott ! Sheriff," he said to me, 
after church, "that was a grand sermon! How 
much will you charge for preaching it on my 
estate every Sunday ? I wish my people saw the 
beauty of labour." The missionary, in his annual 
report to the parent society in England, naturally 
mentioned my discourse amongst other occur- 
rences, and I was much amused at the receipt, 
some months afterwards, of a letter from a religious 


female relative in England, who congratulated me 
on my efforts on behalf of heathen missions, and 
hoped that the Lord would bless my work. 

Between Suddie and Aurora, on the Arabian 
coast, was a sugar estate, called Huis t' Dieren. 
"When I was appointed Sheriff of Essequibo, the 
place had gone down very low, and was only 
making about one hundred and fifty hogsheads of 
common process sugar; the buildings were in a 
dilapidated condition, and everything pointed to 
a rapid descent to ruin ; but I was not prepared 
for the terrible and dramatic exit which it made 
from the ranks of cultivated estates. One night 
the Inspector-General of Police, who was paying 
an official visit to the coast, was dining with me. 
We sat in the gallery after dinner smoking and 
yarning till ten o'clock. The General said he must 
go, as he was tired and sleepy after a hard day's 
work, so with a final split whisky and soda, he 
retired, wishing me " Good night." His wishes 
were not fulfilled. About twenty minutes after- 
wards, as I was undressing to go to bed, I heard 
my name called out, and looking out of the window, 
I saw the serjeant-major from the police barracks, 
who said the Inspector-General wished me to come 
over to the barracks, as there had been a dreadful 
accident at Huis t 7 Dieren, and he was going there 
at once. I was soon dressed again, and hurried 
over to the barracks, where I found the General 
waiting. We were soon in his waggon, and driving 
off to the ill-fated estate. Half an hour's drive 
brought us to the spot, and then we discovered that 


a dreadful occurrence had taken place. A large 
boiler used in the sugar works had exploded. The 
whole top of the boiler, a mass of iron weighing 
two tons, had been hurled through the trees for 
a hundred and fifty yards, and all the steam and 
boiling water had been shot out upon the un- 
fortunate negresses, who had been carrying megass 
near the boiler, a large number of whom were 
scalded by the water and steam, seven of them so 
severely as to necessitate their immediate removal 
to a house which was extemporized into a hospital. 
Three of the women were so much injured that 
they died almost immediately, and so were saved 
from much dreadful suffering ; two more lingered 
on for some time in torments, before death put an 
end to their sufferings ; the other injured people 

It was an awful sight to see the poor people ; 
in some of the worst cases the black skin had been 
almost entirely scalded off, leaving the flesh bright 
red, and the wool had come off their heads. Others 
were in patches of black and red, as if afflicted by 
some dreadful kind of leprosy. 

The medical officer of the district did all in his 
power for the poor people, but that was not much. 
After making the necessary arrangements for the 
coroner's inquest, and for the custody of the bodies, 
the Inspector- General and myself drove sadly back, 
and were not in bed till two a.m. 

At the inquest it was proved that the old boiler 
was unfit to stand more than a limited pressure of 
steam ; but the ignorant engineer had placed on 


the governor, winch regulates the safety valve, 
weights belonging to another boiler, which would 
have required more than twice the force to have 
blown out than the boiler itself was calculated to 
sustain. No wonder that the boiler exploded ; it is 
strange it lasted so long. The jury, by my direction, 
found a verdict of manslaughter against the engineer 
in charge of the works, and I issued a warrant for 
his arrest. 

This accident, or rather wilful negligence, gave 
the coup de grace to the estate, which went out of 
cultivation, and was soon afterwards purchased by 
the Government for a coolie settlement, where 
grants of land were made to East Indian immi- 
grants in lieu of the back passage to India to which 
they are entitled. A number of the immigrants 
settled there ; and soon a small Hindoo temple 
reared its head near the spot where the catastrophe 
occurred, and bright-eyed Indian children play on 
the top of the boiler, which lies imbedded in the 
ground only a yard or two from the public road. 

( 129 ) 


Ikarakka Lake Capoey racecourse Biding catastrophe marooning 
Ituribisce Creek Indian settlements Flights of butterflies Arawak 
Indians Dufrryn mission Manatee Island Dauntless bank Mana- 
tees at the Aquarium and the Zoo Bartica, Essequibo Kiver Gold 
discovery Rev. William Pierce Railways Christian mission Rev. 
Thomas Youd Church Situation for a future city Mechanics under 
indenture Peter McPherson His death Better success Africans 
Congo language Thick skins Jubilee at Hampton Court Fire- 
work display. 

ABOUT four or five miles inland from the Aroabisce 
coast stretches a cordon of small lakes formed by 
creeks, which spread over the savannahs ; in the 
wet season of considerable extent, but in the dry 
reduced to sheets of water from one to three miles 
square. The most southerly one was the Ikarakka 
Lake, formed by the Ituribisce, Mashaboo, and 
other small streams. The Tappacooma was the 
most northerly, and between them were the Capoey 
and Keliance lakes. Near the Capoey Lake was 
the old racecourse, where in the prosperous days 
of the colony horse-racing was carried on with 
much success. In my time, we revived the race 
meeting, cleaned and repaired the old course, and 
enjoyed some good sport there. When we were 
repairing the course, we had some pleasant rides 



aback from Plantation L'Union. Dawson, the 
manager of that estate; Low, of Aurora, and 
myself, often rode round in the cool mornings to 
see how the work was progressing. After leaving 
the estate, we rode up a steep but low sand reef, 
and then a path, a mile long through low bush, led 
on to the sandy savannah on which the racecourse 
was situated. 

Eeturning home one morning, in the exube- 
rance of our spirits we raced round the course, 
and dashed into the bush at a dangerous speed, 
as the path was not straight, and the branches of 
the trees in places crossed the path. Low was 
leading on a great mule ; I followed, riding Mark 
Twain, a well-known racer. Excited by the gallop, 
the brute became unmanageable, I couldn't hold 
him, and it was as much as I could do to keep 
my seat and prevent myself from being swept off 
by the branches. As we neared the steep slope 
leading down to the estate, I heard Low shouting 
out, " Hold hard, Sheriff!" but I was powerless. 
On dashed Mark Twain, arid with a tremendous 
shock, collided with Low and his mule, who went 
down before us like ninepins. I reeled in my 
saddle, but before I recovered myself I was down 
the slope and careering along the side line dam of 
L'Union. Dawson was splitting his sides with 
laughter ; Low's language was sulphurous, and it 
was fortunate for me that I was far away from 
him when he remounted his mule. 

The other lakes were favourite resorts for 
picnics; and many happy days have we spent 


there fishing, sketching, and bathing : marooning 
in the roughest way, doing our own cooking and 
washing up. There is good camping-ground by 
the Ikarakka Lake, and as that was easiest of 
access from Suddie, it was the favourite resort. 
There were two routes to it ; you could walk 
aback for about five or six miles, through bush 
and swamp, or else you could proceed up the 
creek in a batteau, which is much the most com- 
fortable way, especially if ladies are of the party. 
The Ituribisce Creek is very tortuous : the lower 
part is lined by the common swamp grass, mocco- 
mocco, bundurie pimpler, and dwarf-palms; but 
after an hour's paddling the character of the 
banks change, and a forest growth of wallaba, 
mora, and arrisaroo replaces the uninteresting 
swamp growth. Splendid groups of manicole and 
cokerite palms at times meet the eye, whilst 
various ferns, orchids, and climbing plants attract 
attention. The animal life is not numerous, a few 
sakawinki monkeys and groups of the tiny mouse- 
coloured long-nosed bats are met with. Perched 
on some high dead branch, the great-billed buzzard 
or the leaden-headed falcon kite may startle the 
air with its shrill, harsh cry; flocks of parrots, 
macaws, or paroquets, may pass overhead ; the 
mournful cry of the trogon or the plaintive cooing 
of the wood dove may be heard, mingled with the 
varied notes of the mocking bird and the taps of 
the woodpecker. The humming birds are numerous 
and beautiful. The curator of our local museum 
procured specimens of nine or ten species, including 


the grand king humming bird (Pyrasa pella), the 
sabre wing, greenlet, golden throat, the hermit, 
ruby, and topaz, the blue-chinned sapphire, and 
the mango. Flapping along lazily on the wing, 
the magnificent blue and blue-barred morpho 
butterflies are seen, at some seasons in great 
numbers ; whilst occasionally other species, such 
as swallow-tails, heliconias, uranias, and yellows, 
dart along before the boat, or pass it into the 
forest. All around the piercing shrill sound of 
the cicadas may be heard ; whilst with a droning 
flight the great wood-boring bees visit flower after 
flower in search of their nectar. When attacking 
flowers, which their great size prevents them from 
entering, these bees bore a hole in the base of 
the flower, and extract the honey through that 

Gradually the size of the trees diminishes as 
we approach the open savannah. Along the 
margin of the lake the great eeta palms grow in 
clumps, forming small island groups ; on the 
sandy elevations which slope gently down to the 
water, the little settlements of the Arawak Indians 
are situated, their benabs surrounded by coconuts, 
guavas, and cashews. The awarra palm abounds, 
rendered remarkable by its bunches of golden 
yellow fruit, which also overspreads the ground 
and affords fine food to the accourie, labba, and 
armadillo. Pine apples abound and grow in wild 
luxuriance. The fishing and shooting about the 
lake is not good ; there are too many Indians ; and 
you may take it as a broad rule in British Guiana, 


that many Indians means little game, and vice 

One of the most curious sights I ever saw in 
the colony was a flight of butterflies which passed 
my house in Suddie. They were the common 
white and yellow kind, but a column of them, 
which darkened the sky in its flight, was passing 
my house for two days without intermission. 
The insects were flying swiftly, and were not 
more than two yards apart. The stream was 
more than a mile wide, for I walked for that 
distance across them, and how high they reached 
of course I could not tell. Whether they flew 
at night I cannot say. It would be impossible 
to calculate their numbers, and whence they came 
and whither they were going was equally unknown. 
The Indians say such flights are a sign of coming 
droughts. Once in a local steamer, as we were 
crossing from Leguan to Wakenaam, we passed 
through a similar column of the lovely green and 
black velvet swallow-tail butterfly. 

There were a number of Arawak Indians still 
living on the banks of the Ituribisce and Mashaboo 
Creeks, and during my stay on the coast I paid 
them many visits, and knew many of them inti- 
mately. They were a very quiet, shy people, and 
always kept out of the way of strangers. They 
were all under the care of Miss Austin, and 
periodically visited her mission, and always went 
there for advice and assistance in their troubles, 
mental and physical. Besides the creeks men- 
tioned, Dean Austin had obtained for the Indians 


permission from the Government to fish and hunt 
on Manatee Island, a small island in the Essequibo 
River opposite Suddie, which has, however, for 
some years been united to the adjacent Tiger 
Island. It is most curious to see how, owing to 
the strong tides and currents, land is destroyed 
and created in the great rivers of the colony. To 
the north-east of Leguan there is now a large 
island, called the Dauntless Bank, two miles long, 
covered with trees, which had no existence when 
I went to the colony in 1872. Another island is 
rapidly forming to the south of Tiger Island, where 
a few years ago was deep water. In other places 
whole estates have been taken over by the sea, 
and the surf now breaks with a deafeniDg roar 
over a beach that was once cane fields, the old 
buildings and houses lying buried beneath the 

Talking of Manatee Island reminds me that, 
in 1878, two Indians brought me a young manatee 
for sale, which they had caught off the island, 
and wanted ten dollars for it. I refused to buy, 
but advised them to send it to town. They did 
so, and it was purchased by the captain of a 
Glasgow direct steamer, who took it home in 
a turtle tank. It was bought by the Westminster 
Aquarium for JE200, and, when I visited London 
and the Aquarium a few months afterwards, I was 
asked to pay an extra shilling to see the mermaid 
from South America, the same poor brute which 
I had refused to purchase for ten dollars a short 
time before. 

BAR TIC A 135 

In September, in 1875, I was in the Zoo in 
Kegent's Park, and saw an unfortunate manatee 
in the seal-pond. The temperature was then cold, 
falling to the forties at night ; and I told the man, 
who was feeding it with lettuce leaves, that it 
would never live in that temperature, as it came 
from a country where the water was never colder 
than seventy-eight degrees. I was not surprised, 
two days afterwards, to see "Death of the Manatee" 
at the head of a paragraph in a morning journal. 

Since the gold industry was started, it has 
been found necessary to establish a town at the 
little settlement of Bartica on the Essequibo River, 
and an ordinance for that purpose was passed in 
1887. When the first rumours of gold having 
been found in the Cuyuni were succeeded, after 
many years, by the actual discovery of gold in 
paying quantities in the Essequibo; when the 
Puruni was found to be a mine of wealth, and 
the Potaro, with its neighbouring creeks, was 
described as a very Pactolus, then it was found 
necessary to establish some central depot from 
whence the gold industry could be regulated a 
place where labourers could be registered when 
going up to work, and searched when coming 
down ; where boats could be inspected and 
licensed, and competent boat hands hired ; where 
the magistrates could adjudicate upon the gold 
disputes, and the Government officers could issue 
prospecting and other licenses ; where a hospital 
for the sick could be established, and a lock-up 
for the disorderly ; where the dead could be buried, 


and the living entertained ; so Bartica was chosen 
and founded, and is now able to meet all the 
requirements detailed above. 

A glance at the map of Guiana will convince 
the most sceptical what a wise choice has been 
made. The gold area seems to be very widely 
distributed ; but there is no doubt that the bulk 
of it is embraced by that wide stretch of the 
colony which is drained by the Essequibo, Cuyuni, 
and Massaruni rivers and their tributaries ; so that 
all the traffic to and from these auriferous districts 
will be by means of these rivers, or by railways 
or roads constructed on their banks. The three 
rivers converge at Bartica, and the vast flood of 
their united waters is borne on the bosom of the 
Essequibo, past her hundred isles, into the great 
basin of the Atlantic. 

It is true that gold has been found in the 
Barima and Barama rivers, and also in the Upper 
Demerara; but Georgetown can supply all the 
wants of the latter district, whilst a suitable place 
in the north-west has been found for a central 

Some of the greatest cities of old and modern 
times owe their rise and grandeur to their positions 
in the fork between two great rivers, which gave 
them unrivalled advantages for defence and com- 
merce. Lyons and St. Louis are two of the most 
striking modern examples, and there is no reason 
to doubt that, in years to come, Bartica will rival 
those great centres of trade and civilization. 
[Since writing the above, a railway has been made 

RAPID S 137 

from the Demerara River to the Essequibo, form- 
ing a quicker and more direct route to the Upper 
Essequibo and Potaro rivers, so the importance of 
Bartica will be diminished.] 

As the visitor passes up the avenue leading 
to the church at Bartica, he will see an unpre- 
tentious monument on his left hand, erected to 
the memory of the Eev. Wm. Pierce and his 
family, who all, except one little boy, who was 
saved by an Indian, perished some years ago in 
the rapids of the Essequibo, giving a mute, but 
solemn, warning to all who would seek to pene- 
trate into the wilds in search of wealth a sermon 
in stone not to be disregarded. All the three 
great rivers which centre at Bartica are sown 
with rapids, whose rocks, like the dragons which 
guarded the fabled gardens of the Hesperides, 
are ready to tear in pieces the rash intruder who 
attempts to grasp the golden fruit. In these 
dangerous passes many a life has fallen victim to 
the lust for gold ; many a promising venture has 
been wrecked ere it came near its basis of opera- 
tions. It would seem sometimes as if the old 
Indian legends were true, and these rushing waters 
were peopled by water-mammas and other water- 
spirits, which dragged down into their horrid 
depths all those who attempt to pass them without 
due propitiation. Several suggestions have been 
made to avoid this loss of life and goods, the 
most reasonable of which seems to me to build 
a light, narrow-gauge railway from Bartica, up 
the left bank of the Essequibo, until the rapids 


are past, when there would be smooth water up 
to the Potaro and other gold-bearing rivers and 
creeks. This railway would open up a district 
full of valuable timber, and would be available 
for the timber-cutters as well as for the gold- 
diggers. If the first railway were a success, a 
branch could be run up the right bank of the 
Massaruni, past Calacoon, skirting the Marechal 
Falls, up to the Puruni gold-fields ; and, if our 
neighbours in Venezuela will lay aside the sword 
and take to the pickaxe and shovel, might be 
connected with a line from the Yuruari Valley, 
and bring the wealth of that great district through 
the channels of the Essequibo to the port of 

Perhaps the Venezuelans have already aban- 
doned warfare for agricultural pursuits, for Mr. 
McTurk tells us that he saw five Venezuelan 
generals working as labourers, and a field-marshal 
looking after his master's asses, in which occu- 
pation, like Saul the son of Kish, he may find a 
kingdom. I paid a visit to Bartica in 1891. Its 
situation, as I have said, is admirable enough, 
though the land near the river is rather low, and 
requires drainage, as the high spring tides swamp 
the lowest lots ; but as the town extends inland 
the ground gradually rises, until elevated sites are 
reached upon which will be reared the houses of 
our future merchants. The limits of the present 
town are confined, the whole area laid out being 
only half a square mile, but it can be expanded 
on three sides to meet the necessities of trade and 


population. Bartica can boast of two or three 
decent hotels, an extensive market at my visit 
destitute of things marketable, unless about fifty 
black men in hammocks could be reckoned in that 
category a dispensary, several good stores, and 
perhaps unnecessary to add thriving rum shops. 
There seems an absence of the female element, 
except of a certain class, and few children or 
fowls ; but these defects will be easily remedied. 
The hospital is a large, roomy edifice, and a broad 
draining-trench has been dug round the future 
city. A new police-station near the present 
stelling has been erected, which adds to the 
appearance of the town and the comfort of the 

Bartica, or " red earth" probably the same 
red earth from which, according to the Talmud, 
man was first created was originally granted for 
religious uses. It was one of the earliest mis- 
sionary settlements in the colony under British 
rule. The original site was about a mile to the 
west of the Grove, where a grant of land was 
obtained from Sir Benjamin D'Urban. The mis- 
sion was removed to its present position in 1837, 
when a grant of five hundred and sixty acres was 
obtained from the Crown. Under the fostering 
care of the Rev. Thomas Youd, the mission 
obtained a certain amount of success. It was 
visited by Bishop Coleridge," of Barbados, in 1838, 
and a church was built dedicated to St. John the 
Baptist, the evangelist of the desert, and con- 
secrated by the Lord Bishop of Guiana on the 


5th of January, 1843, in the presence of Governor 
Light and a distinguished company. 

I doubt whether in any part of the world can 
be found such an unrivalled site for a city as 
Bartica presents. Washed on two sides .by the 
waters of two great rivers, she faces the Atlantic 
breeze, tempered by a passage of thirty miles over 
a hundred isles clothed in tropical verdure. To 
the north stretches a mass of fresh water fed by 
the Massaruni, Essequibo, Cuyuni, and their 
myriad tributary streams, so as to make a great 
inland lake, dotted in all directions with islands, 
varying in size from huge Hog Island, nearly as 
large as Barbados, to the lovely little Sail Rock, 
smallest of small islets, but said to be the most 
densely populated in the world, for on its solitary 
tree hangs a huge nest of ants. To the south 
stretch two thousand miles of almost virgin forest 
and savannah, intersected by ranges of hills, and 
deep rivers broken by many a thundering fall and 
noisy rapid; forests, rich in greenheart, mora, 
ballata, and odoriferous gums ; savannahs, which 
will support cattle by thousands ; hills, rich in 
gold, which for myriads of years have been await- 
ing the pick of the miner ; rivers whose banks are 
gleaming with golden showers, richer than those 
which deceived Danae of old. Seen even now in 
the early morn bathed in sunshine, more golden 
than her dreams, she seems a fairy village; all 
sordid details are effaced, all common objects are 
transfigured, and nothing but beauty in colour and 
form remains. The mangoes, with their varied 


tints of green and russet; the towering royal 
palms ; the coconuts, with fronds of every shade 
from gamboge to burnt sienna ; the warm, grey 
houses, with roofs of purple wallaba not yet toned 
down to drab ; the numerous little stellings, each 
a focus for flashing rays of living water ; a score 
of boats sleeping on the waters ; the living crowds 
of every colour of skin and dress ; the brown, nude 
boys and girls bathing on the strand, their lithe 
wet bodies glowing with saffron tints under the 
solar rays ; above all, a sky of scintillating blue 
reflected in a magic mirror of placid water ; all 
these combined to form a picture of beauty which, 
once seen, will never be forgotten. 

In olden days, after the abolition of slavery, 
it was customary to introduce mechanics from 
Great Britain, who, in return for a free passage 
and regular employment, were indentured for five 
years to the estate whose proprietors brought them 
out. When the indentures had expired they 
generally continued to work on the plantation, 
and acquired some wealth, which they invested 
in real property, and became useful and inde- 
pendent colonists. One of these men was Peter 
McPherson, of Perth and Dunkeld. He was a 
wheelwright, and, by the exercise of his trade, had 
made some money, which enabled him to pur- 
chase the abandoned estate on which he resided. 
When I knew him he was an old man, nearly as 
old as his house, which was a somewhat rickety 
structure. Raised on ten-foot pillars, the two- 
storied manager's house was at one time a decent 


and commodious building ; but it had fallen into 
grievous disrepair the floors were full of gaps, 
where the boards had fallen through, and the gaps 
had to be crossed by planks. Between the pillars 
were stored numbers of old cart and waggon 
wheels, and broken bodies of traps, which afforded 
convenient roosting-places for numerous fowls, 
whilst goats, sheep, cattle and horses congregated 
under the building, the effluvium from these 
animals rising up into the house through the 
broken flooring. 

Peter was a canny Scot, and not given to 
wasteful ways ; he was, however, rather too fond 
of grog, and once a year he went " on the bust." 
He used to saddle his old grey pony, and start off 
up the coast, calling upon every manager on his 
way. He had a carouse at each house, where, if 
his host were friendly, he would spend the night ; 
but often as not he was seen lying asleep by the 
road-side, whilst the steady old pony cropped the 
grass beside him. In this way he journeyed up 
the coast as far as Spring Garden, and then, turn- 
ing his pony's head, would work his way back 
again in the same manner. These expeditions 
lasted about three weeks ; and when he reached 
his home he unsaddled his pony, turning her out 
to graze, and settled down until his wanderjahr 
came upon him again. In his latter days he 
became rather silly, and got the impression that 
a niece who lived with him was trying to poison 
him. He sent for Mr. B. G. Duncan, who had 
known Peter years before, and told him that he 


was dying, and that his niece was killing him; 
and despite Mr. Duncan's attempts to soothe him, 
the old man was not to be persuaded. His mind 
began to ramble, and his thoughts went back to 
the rocks and streams of his native land, and he 
recited, with tears rolling down his withered 
cheeks, those touching lines of Burns 

" Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon, 

How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair, 
How can ye chant, ye little birds, 

And I sae weary fu' o' care. 
Thou'll break my heart, thou warbling bird 

That wantons through the flowering thorn ; 
Thou minds me o' departed joys, 

Departed never to return." 

The heat and stress of tropic toil, his many years 
of exile were forgotten, he was back in his own be- 
loved Scotland, and with the words of her greatest 
poet on his lips the old man sank back and died. 

Perth and Dunkeld, where McPherson lived 
and died, is on the north end of the Aroabisce 
coast, facing the Atlantic. About five miles 
beyond was Better Success, the last place on the 
coast, as it trends round towards the Pomeroon, 
and the extremity of my district as sheriff. 

Better Success was an old, abandoned estate, 
where lived a number of Africans in a state of 
primitive barbarism. The front dams of the estate 
had been broken down by the sea, and the tide 
swept in and out, under and around, the houses of 
the inhabitants, which were built on greenheart 
piles; the road was washed away, and the only 
means of approach was in bateaux. I once went to 


this place to open an inquest over a man, who was 
supposed to have been murdered. I was astonished 
to see such numbers of fine stalwart people. Their 
food was principally fish and rice ; the former 
caught in great numbers out of the sea, the latter 
grown by coolies on a neighbouring settlement. 

As the tide was up, the people were wading 
through the water in all directions, most of them 
without clothes ; only the older women seemed 
to think it was necessary to cover their nakedness 
in any way, although a few of the men sported a 
ragged pair of trousers or an old shirt. There are 
several settlements of these Africans in various 
parts of the colony. They are a fine, hardy race, 
hard working and prosperous, very different from 
the ordinary Creole black man. They are the 
descendants of thirteen thousand Congos, Man- 
dingoes, and other tribes, who were taken out of 
captured slavers and landed in the country, where 
they readily found employment. The language 
these people talk is very peculiar, and perfectly 
unintelligible to a stranger. Mr. Michael McTurk, 
special magistrate, has made himself quite familiar 
with their peculiar tongue. Under the nom de 
plume of " Quow " he has published some amusing 
anecdotes in the Congo lingo. Witnesses of this 
race are a puzzle to judges and the despair of 

Some of these Congos have remarkably thick 
skins, and are real pachyderms. When I was 
presiding over the Supreme Criminal Court 
at Suddie, a woman named Sarah Archer, a 


Barbadian, was indicted for feloniously wounding 
a man named Nurse. After some quarrelling, the 
two had caught hold of one another and fallen 
to the ground, when the woman, drawing a razor 
out of her pocket and opening it with her teeth, 
slashed the man over the face and hands and 
neck, inflicting several serious wounds. Nurse, 
who was a Congo man, was taken to the hospital, 
where his wounds were stitched up by Dr. Castor, 
the medical officer of the district. At the trial, 
Dr. Castor, in his evidence, stated that he had 
never known any man with such a thick skin ; 
he broke two medical needles in trying to pierce 
it to put in the stitches, and at last was driven to 
use a bradawl. 

During the Jubilee celebration, in 1887, the 
proprietors of Plantation Hampton Court, on the 
Essequibo coast, determined to give their em- 
ployes a treat, and ordered a large supply of 
fireworks from England for their amusement. On 
the night selected for the display, fifteen hundred 
East Indian immigrants, reinforced by large 
numbers of Creoles from the neighbouring villages, 
assembled in a field in front of the manager's 
house. I had been invited, as sheriff of the 
county, to see the display, and assist in the 
discharge ; so, after an early dinner at 6.30, we 
sallied out about eight, and piling all the fireworks 
on a mule cart, drove it down to the field. The 
manager, the head overseer, Dawson, manager 
of L'Union, and myself, were in charge. The 
cart was put in position, the mule and cart man 



sent away, and we commenced operations. After 
the discharge of a few preliminary mines and 
rockets, Dawson went to the cart for a fresh 
supply, and as he was exploring its recesses, a 
lighted port fire which he held in his hand fell 
down into the midst of the fireworks. When he 
saw what had happened, and surmising what 
would soon happen, he shouted an alarm to us, 
and seizing hold of the manager, they both lay 
down on their faces in a dry trench a few yards 
off. The head overseer and myself ran for our 
lives and got behind a big ceiba tree ; and then 
began a display of fireworks, which lasted about 
ten minutes, worthy of the Crystal Palace ; mines 
exploded, rockets shot about in all directions, 
catharine-wheels gyrated in the most eccentric 
manner ; fixed pieces were wandering about the 
pasture, hissing and fizzing ; jacks-in-the-box 
exploded one after another in friendly rivalry; 
Eoman candles kept up a fusillade of coloured 
balls, a perfect bombardment. With pallid faces, 
lit up with lights of all colours, we shrank behind 
our friendly tree, expecting every minute to be 
impaled by some wandering rocket. 

As for the spectators, they were in a frenzy 
of delight ; they had never seen such a tomasha 
before. They danced, and shouted, and yelled, 
and rolled on the ground in their excitement. 
Fortunately, the display was too good to last long ; 
soon all the brilliancy departed, and we were left 
in darkness, smoke, and a foul smell, but, happily, 
safe in wind and limb. 

( 147 ) 


Bovianders Aboriginal Indians Indian women Waterton G. A. S. 
Piwarrie Character of Indians Kanaima Murder of Simon the 
Arawak's wife Indian impassivity Impatience of confinement 
Doctrine of clothes Old customs Floating shops Smuggling 
Akyma Bremner family Old graves A tomb in the wilderness 
Alaric Watts Sebacabra Fishing Old woodskin Dances 
Christianburgh Paterson Dalgin Sergeant Alleyne Surgical 
operations Mora Sergeant Blunt Brittlebank Miscegenation 
Napier's Peninsular War Kroomen Joe Arecuna Indians 

AMONGST the numerous interesting races, pure or 
half caste, which inhabit British Guiana, must 
be reckoned the Bovianders, who live up the 
numerous rivers of the colony, and who are the 
descendants of the old Dutch settlers by Indian 
squaws. In no place in the world have native 
Indians been better treated than in British Guiana. 
By the Dutch and the English equally they have 
been protected both as to their persons and 
property ; so that though two hundred years or 
more have passed since the country was first 
settled by Europeans, the Indians still exist in 
considerable numbers, and in close propinquity to 
the settlements. 

It is not my intention to give a history of the 


various Indian tribes, or to describe their habits ; 
the curious in such matters can refer to the works 
of Im Thurn, Brett, and Barrington Brown, who 
have fully treated this interesting subject. In 
slavery times both the Dutch and the English 
Governments subsidized the Indians, or bucks, as 
they are locally called ; and in return the natives 
used to track and capture all the runaway slaves 
or convicts who had escaped into the vast forests, 
which stretched for two thousand miles to the 
south of the colony. The Indians were never ill- 
treated, and enjoy some advantages denied to the 
colonists. The Indian pays no tax of any kind ; 
his dog and his gun, his cassava field, his village 
of palm-thatched huts provide no revenue for the 
State. He is allowed to cut timber and bush on 
Crown lands without license or payment of royalty. 
When he visits the capital, a special landing-place 
is provided for him, near to which is erected a 
commodious shed, where he can sling his hammock. 
It was no uncommon thing to meet in the busiest 
and most thronged street in Georgetown a party 
of Indians devoid of clothes, with the exception 
of the smallest of aprons, walking unconcernedly 
along the women with naked babies slung on 
their backs, the men carrying live parrots and 
macaws on their shoulders for sale or bargain. 
The wife of one of our governors was much scan- 
dalized at meeting one of these parties, when she 
was shopping in Water Street ; so she persuaded 
her husband to issue an order that all Indian 
women landing in the town should be presented 


with a petticoat each; so for a short time each 
bewildered buckeen was presented with a short 
flannel petticoat on her arrival in town. Not 
knowing the use of this modest article of apparel, 
she generally tied it round her neck, and proceeded 
to the nearest grog-shop, where she exchanged it 
for a bottle of rum, and walked about as before 
naked and not ashamed. 

The Indian women make very good wives, 
hard-working and virtuous, so, as they are not 
uncomely when young, it is not surprising that 
many of the early settlers took Indian girls as 
wives or housekeepers ; and the Bovianders I 
mentioned are the descendants of these alliances. 
Sometimes men in the higher ranks of life inter- 
married with Indian women, and such an alliance 
was not looked upon by society with the same dis- 
favour which, at all times, had been associated 
with any connection with the negro population. 

The great Waterton's wife was the daughter 
of Captain Edmundstone and an Arawak girl, the 
daughter of a chief of that tribe ; George Augustus 
Sala, who was born in Demerara, used to boast 
that his mother was the daughter of an Indian 
chief ; and there is more than one family of posi- 
tion in the colony now, who show unmistakable 
signs of Indian descent. 

When I was in charge of the Upper Demerara 
Eiver, I was brought into intimate contact with 
the Indians of the Arawak, Accawoio, and Macusi 
tribes, and always found them very quiet, well 
behaved people, except when under the influence 


of their native drink, piwarrie, when they became 
beastly and quarrelsome. Piwarrie is an intoxi- 
cating drink, made in a particularly nasty way, 
which I have already described in a previous 

For some days after a debauch the men are of 
no use, but lie in their hammocks in a state of 
stupor. Too much indulgence in piwarrie pro- 
duces a disease of the rectum, which is peculiar 
to these Indians. The Indian is not a very 
amiable character ; he is essentially selfish, grasp- 
ing, improvident, and lazy. Like other aboriginal 
tribes, he is capable of great endurance both in 
working and in abstinence from food. He is 
sullen and revengeful, but not hasty in temper; 
and he is a fairly good husband and father, though, 
of course, he treats his wives as slaves, and makes 
them do all the hard work in the field, as well as 
in the benab. On the whole, the Indian is a very 
inoffensive person to his neighbours, and although 
not a productive citizen, he is an inexpensive one, 
as he gives but little trouble to the police or the 
magistrates. The only time when Indians come 
seriously into conflict with the authorities is when 
they carry out their native custom of the kanaima, 
or the avenging of blood. 

The Indian kanaima is like the Corsican ven- 
detta ; the executioner is selected by lot from the 
family of the slain, and he indefatigably follows 
his victim, like a stoat following a hare, until he 
meets and kills him. One Indian, against whom 
a kanaima had been preached, was followed for 


two years by his executioner, who at last met him 
and killed him in front of the Government Build- 
ings in Georgetown. 

An interesting and curious case of kanaima 
came under my own knowledge, when I was 
Sheriff of Essequibo, the particulars of which I 
think are worth narrating. On the left bank of 
the Aripiaco, which pours its tributary waters into 
the Pomeroon Eiver, just below the lovely Indian 
mission of Cabacaburi, stood the house of Eobert 
Simon, an Arawak Indian. It was built in the 
usual Indian fashion, about fifty yards from the 
bank of the river, and consisted of a roof of troolie 
palm leaves, supported on poles and rafters of 
wallaba and cedar wood. The eaves of the roof 
projected about three feet on all sides to keep out 
the glare of the sun and the beating rain, as there 
were no walls to the building. Three or four 
dirty hammocks, made of the fibre of the eeta 
palm, were suspended from the cross poles ; a small 
fire smouldered at one end of the benab, near to 
which were some rude implements of cookery, 
calabashes, gourds, a matapie, sieve, an iron pot, 
and a great earthenware jar full of water. 

Slung along the rafters were some long arrows 
and short spears, and a rusty single-barrelled percus- 
sion gun was leaning against a corner post. There 
was a small clearing round the house, beyond which 
was an apparently impenetrable forest of that rich 
tropical growth peculiar to the equatorial zone. 

Simon was, as I have said, an Arawak Indian, 
one of that great tribe which was at one time so 


formidable to the earlier invaders of Guiana, but 
now only a remnant about two thousand quiet, 
peaceable souls, who spend their time in fishing, 
hunting, and wood-cutting. Some years before 
the occurrences I am about to mention, Simon had 
married an Arawak girl, daughter of an Indian who 
lived at Maccaseema, the residence of the magis- 
trate, Mr. McClintock. Simon's wife led the usual 
hard life of the Indian squaw, expected to be 
always at work, to weed the cassava field, to bring 
the roots from the field to the house, a distance 
of more than two miles, in a heavy quaick sus- 
pended by a band from her forehead ; to rub the 
roots on the grater till reduced to powder, then to 
squeeze out the deadly juice in the matapie ; and, 
finally, to grind the hunks of pressed cassava into 
flour, and bake the cassava cakes over the fire. 
She had to carry all the loads, to nurse the babies, 
to keep the fire alight all night ; in fact, to be 
her husband's slave. But as this is the common 
lot of Indian squaws, Simon's gentle wife would 
have thought herself no worse off than other 
women if it had not been that Simon, for some 
reason or other, ill-treated her after the birth of 
their third child. The woman became sickly ; 
she did not recover quickly from her confinement. 
Most Indian women when their babies are born 
carry them to the river and wash them, and, after 
washing themselves, go on with their work as if 
nothing had happened. The happy husband, on the 
other hand, lies in his hammock for several days, 
and receives the congratulations of his friends. 


Simon's wife, being sickly, could not perform her 
usual laborious tasks, so her husband first abused 
her, and then beat her. Driven to desperation by 
his ill-treatment, she complained of him to her 
father and brothers at Maccaseema, and they came 
over to the Aripiaco and remonstrated with Simon. 
But he was sulky and took their interference with 
a bad grace ; in fact, told them to mind their own 
business. The ill-usage went on, nay, was inten- 
sified by the interference of her brothers, kindly 
meant, but unwise, as such proceedings usually 
are. Simon got sulkier, and his temper was not 
improved by some bad rum, which he now imbibed 
on Saturdays, and which generally gave him a 
splitting headache for a day or two afterwards. 
One day in a fit of rage and drunkenness he gave 
his unfortunate wife a kick in the stomach (she 
was again advanced in pregnancy), which felled her 
to the ground, and brought on violent sickness and 
fainting. She took to her hammock and died about 
two days afterwards. Simon reported her death 
to the good missionary at Cabacaburi, who came 
to the Indian hut and read the burial service over 
the poor woman as she was laid in her final resting- 
place, beneath the bamboos of the forest. 

Meanwhile the fact of her death reached the 
ears of her father and brothers at Maccaseema, and 
rumours of cruelty and violence accompanied it. 
From what they heard they made up their minds, 
and not without reason, that Simon had killed 
their daughter and sister, and by the Indian law 
his life must pay the debt of murder. 


About a week after his wife's funeral Simon 
was sitting on his hammock in his benab mending 
a fishing-line. It was about eleven o'clock, when 
few Indians do any work. He had visited his night 
lines in the river during the early morn ; some fish 
caught by him were already in the pepper-pot 
simmering over the fire. His three little children, 
entirely naked, were rolling about in the sand with 
all the chaste indecency of childhood, playing with 
each other and teasing a sakawinki monkey, which 
was tied by a cord round its waist to one of the 
uprights of the benab. A warracabra or trumpet 
bird was hopping about, and pecking at the ears 
of a mangy-looking, half-starved cur, who was 
taking a bellyful of sunshine, as he had little else 
to fill his inside. 

The whole scene was quivering in a golden 
haze caused by the intense heat. A woodskin 
canoe drew up to Simon's landing, out of which 
stepped four men, the father and three brothers 
of Simon's wife, and having fastened the wood- 
skin to a tree with a piece of lliane, they 
marched in single file up to the benab, where 
they saw Simon sitting inside on his hammock; 
so they passed him and sat down in a row on 
a fallen tree, which lay in the shade a little way 
from the benab. 

Two of the men carried guns, the single- 
barrelled Birmingham guns which are usually 
sold to native tribes; the other two had their 
bows with arrows whose heads were dipped in 
the deadly wourali poison. 


Not a word was spoken. The children stopped 
in their play, and, with instinctive fear, ran and 
hid in the dense bush. Simon, after a glance at 
the men, went on with his mending. The four men 
sat on the log and gazed on the ground. Not a 
sound was heard except the hum of innumerable 
insects, the distant boom of the bull frog, and the 
shrill chattering of the captive monkey. At length 
Simon, tired of waiting, got up, and, taking his 
pepper-pot off the fire, began to eat, dipping the 
cassava cake into the pot. His appetite was not 
good, which is not surprising under the circum- 
stances, so he soon completed his meal. As he 
replaced the pepper-pot he cast a hasty glance 
around, and seeing his gun in a corner, took it up, 
and rapidly slinging a piece of bamboo containing 
powder, shot, and caps round his neck, he hoped 
to slip out at the end of the benab, and, by a rapid 
dive into the bush, which was quite familiar to him, 
escape from the men who were watching him ; but 
as he made the first step out of his dwelling, the 
hitherto motionless men sprang to their feet, and 
in an instant an arrow was quivering in his thigh, 
and the discharge of two guns straight into his 
back brought him to the ground. Kushing upon 
him, the four men with the butts of their guns and 
with sticks beat the unfortunate Simon to death. 
When they were satisfied that he was dead, the 
avengers of blood dragged the body away, taking 
care none of them to enter the shadow of the dead 
man's house, until they came to the grave of their 
relative, the dead man's wife. But their work was 


not done yet. True, he was dead, the murderer of 
their sister, hut his jumhi or spirit might rise and 
haunt them for the deed they had done ; so with a 
sharp machete they hacked off the dead man's 
head, and, after laying it for a moment on his 
wife's tomb, they buried it about fifty yards from 
the place, where the trunk was afterwards disposed 
of. All was now over the murder of the woman 
had been avenged the kanaima had been accom- 
plished ; but the avengers knew they had violated 
the laws imposed upon them by the conquerors of 
their country, so they went to Mr. McClintock, 
the three brothers, the father being left at home, 
and gave themselves up to him, saying, " We have 
killed Kobert Simon because he murdered our 
sister." The kind-hearted old magistrate, who 
had lived amongst the Indians all his life, and had 
known these boys since they were born, wouldn't 
believe them, but they persisted in their statement, 
and offered to take him and show him where the 
body was buried. At last they persuaded him that 
they spoke the truth ; so he made out an arrest 
warrant and arrested them. As there was no lock- 
up within thirty miles, he said to them, " Now, 
boys, you are arrested, and you must not leave my 
house until I tell you." To this they consented, 
and bringing their hammocks they slung them up 
under the magistrate's house, and slept that night 
the sleep of the just. 

At that time I was Sheriff of Essequibo, so 
Mr. McClintock sent a message to me by an 
Indian, who came in his canoe up the Aripiaco 


and Tappacooma rivers, across the Tappacooma 
Lake, and down the Anna Eegina water-path to 
the police-station on that estate, where I was 
holding court. I communicated the contents of 
the note to the county inspector, who proceeded 
at once with some black policemen to the scene of 
the catastrophe. The bodies were found buried as 
I have decribed, and at the request of the Gover- 
nor I held the investigation into the murder in the 
court-room at Anna Eegina. My troubles were very 
slight. When the charge was read to them, all 
the three Indian brothers said, "Yes, we kill him, 
because he killed our sister." Depositions were 
taken, but the accused never cross-examined the 
witnesses, and seemed to think that I was taking 
much trouble to no purpose. They were quite 
harmless-looking young men, with the broad, 
beardless faces, small eyes, and straight black hair 
of their race. I committed them for trial at the 
Criminal Sessions, and they were removed to the 
county gaol at Suddie. 

My house was nearly opposite the gaol, and, 
about two days afterwards, my quiet was invaded 
by about twelve Arawak women and children, the 
belongings of the men, who brought their ham- 
mocks and quietly slung them under my house, 
where they established themselves to await the 
turn of events. It was in vain that I requested 
them to remove, that I told them that it was 
useless for them to remain there ; with the stolidity 
of their race they listened to me, but never budged 
a foot. How they lived I cannot imagine ; they 


never stole anything of mine, and I never gave 
them anything, except some bread and cakes to 
the little children. I gave the women passes 
sometimes to see their husbands in gaol. The 
Sessions came in due course; the Chief Justice 
came down to Suddie to deliver the gaol; and, 
amongst others, these three unfortunate men were 
brought before him. They made no defence, and 
were, of course, found guilty and sentenced to 
death by hanging. 

The aboriginal Indians of Guiana in fact, of 
any country cannot endure confinement. Accus- 
tomed to wander at will through the forests and 
over the rivers of his splendid country, the native 
Indian pines away in confinement; like a wild 
bird, he beats his breast against the walls of his 
prison, and cries, " Give me freedom, or I die! " 
An Indian confined in the wooden lock-up at 
Malali tried to eat his way out with his teeth. 

It was pitiable to see these poor men after only 
six weeks' confinement in prison. They were the 
shadows of their former plump selves, although 
by my orders as much liberty had been given to 
them as was compatible with security. After they 
were sentenced to death I wrote to the Governor 
on their behalf, and forwarded a petition which 
had been signed by the rector of the parish and 
some other kind folk. His Excellency took a 
merciful view of their case, and commuted their 
sentence to one of penal servitude for life. But 
was it a merciful view ? Perhaps they had better 
been hanged. Immured in the penal settlement 


on the banks of the Massaruni, these poor men 
pined away. Two of them soon died, and the 
third was released, as the surgeon certified that 
his life would also be sacrificed if he were kept any 
longer in the prison. When the convicts had left 
Suddie for the settlement my encampment of 
Indians broke up and disappeared as quietly and 
mysteriously as they arrived. 

One of the principal causes of the extermina- 
tion of native races before European civilization 
is the absurd practice of making these poor people 
wear clothes. The climate of Guiana is exceed- 
ingly warm and moist; up the rivers scarcely a 
day passes without several showers of rain ; the 
natives, in consequence, go about in a nude state, 
and the rain as it falls runs off their oiled backs 
like water off the proverbial duck. But when, by 
the efforts of some well-meaning but misdirected 
missionary, they don clothes they soon become 
victims of phthisis and pneumonia, their clothes 
getting wet through and drying on their bodies 
several times a day. It is not from want of 
knowledge of clothes that the Indian goes naked. 
That absurd parody which says 

" Lo the poor Indian, whose untutored mind 
Wears nought in front and goes all bare behind," 

is really a libel on the race, as they do so, not from 
an " untutored mind," but because they know by 
experience that such a want of costume is necessary 
for their habits and climate. Wearing of clothes 
is merely conventional, and if we all went about 
naked, in a few days no one would notice it. 


When I was first brought into contact with 
the Indians of Guiana, the sight of the Indian girls 
and women entirely nude, with the exception of 
a bead apron about eight inches square called a 
queyo, used to astonish me; but after a day or 
two one accepted the fact as a matter of course, 
and one never seemed to notice whether they were 
nude or not. The Indians are quite capable of 
making clothes. They weave strong cloth for baby- 
slings, lapps, and other purposes, make excellent 
hammocks, and construct feather crowns of great 
beauty and ingenuity. Their baskets are neatly 
woven in geometric patterns, and the women's 
queyos are elegant specimens of beadwork. 

It is a dangerous experiment to interfere with 
the immemorial customs and habits of an ancient 
race, and to preach to them doctrines strange and 

Infanticide is a crime unknown amongst the 
aboriginal Indians of Guiana, but it was my pain- 
ful duty to preside over the trial of a young Indian 
woman for the murder of her new-born child. The 
motive for the murder could be clearly traced to the 
teaching of the well-meaning and kind-hearted lady 
missionary, who had been for years impressing upon 
the Indian girls the hitherto unknown doctrine 
that it would be a shame and disgrace for them to 
have a child before marriage ; so this unfortunate 
girl strangled and buried in the sand the new-born 
babe, which in her untutored days she would have 
washed and pressed to her bosom. 

Owing to the privileges granted to the Indians, 

AKYMA 161 

many low class white and coloured men married 
Indian women, and in the names of their wives 
carried on a trade in timber, shingles, gum, etc., 
to their mutual advantage. Punts covered with 
thatched roofs, and made into a kind of house- 
boats, sail up the rivers laden with canned pro- 
visions, calico, print, guns, powder, beer, and the 
prohibited rum, and traffic with the natives for 
timber, shingles, and other forest products. The 
sale of rum in British Guiana is surrounded by 
every restriction possible to invent, but the most 
stringent laws are sometimes evaded. Commis- 
sariat officers are always on the look out for these 
floating shops, and board them on every oppor- 
tunity to search for rum. Some of the punts have 
false bottoms, under which lie snugly hid the 
prohibited bottles. Sometimes the rum is carried 
in large demijohns, which, securely corked, are 
sunk under the river's bank, when any alarm is 

One Boviander family on the Demerara Kiver 
lived at a lovely place called Akyma, on a little 
hill, rising about thirty feet from the river, and 
crowned with feathery bamboos and tall cucurite 
and manicole palms. Their name was Bremner, 
and their immediate ancestor was a Dutchman, 
who had been post-holder at the Government post 
of Sebacabra, a hill on the right bank of the river 
about ninety miles from Georgetown. 

The post-holder had married an Arawak woman, 
and after living to a good age, he was drowned 
whilst shooting the Malali rapids about ten miles 



above his house, and was buried in his pepper- 
garden. In travelling up the rivers, we found 
that all the old settlements contain the graves of 
their former owners, sometimes for several genera- 
tions, covered by gravestones rudely carved with 
names and dates. Bremner fils had established 
himself at Akyma in his father's lifetime ; he married 
a half-caste woman, and had a numerous family of 
sons and daughters. 

When I first knew him, he was a man of about 
fifty-five years of age, very stout and lazy, who 
spent his days in loafing about and smoking his 
pipe. His wife, who was a very energetic woman, 
carried on all the business, took out the wood- 
cutting grants, looked after the wood-cutters, saw 
the punts loaded, sold the timber, and spent the 
money. Their house was a good two-storied 
wooden building, raised upon high brick pillars, 
access to which was made by an ornamental cast- 
iron staircase, which Bremner in his younger and 
more active days had imported from England, and 
to which he always pointed with undisguised pride. 
On my last visit to Akyma, I found that the old 
house had fallen down and disappeared, and nothing 
was left but some broken-down brick pillars and 
the cast-iron staircase, standing erect and alone, 
leading nowhere, and of use to no one. 

I slept at Bremner's house on several occasions 
on my way up and down the river, which was a 
tedious process, as there was no steamer in those 
days, and pulling a tent boat against the tide was 
a slow mode of progression. I always found old 


Bremner ready for a drink and a chat, but I always 
had to provide the grog from my own stores. 

He was then too lazy to travel, but he had a 
rooted dread of rapids. " No more rapids for me," 
he used to say; "they drowned my father, and 
they nearly drowned me, so no more rapids for 


As I was strolling over the hill on which the 
house stands, under the shadow of a noble bamboo, 
I came across a grave marked by a wooden head- 
board, from which time had erased all remnants of 
name and date. On inquiry from old Bremner, 
he informed me that it was the grave of a young 
English or German naturalist, who had been 
collecting specimens up the river, and who was 
brought down by his Indian boatmen dying of 
fever, one night some years ago. The poor man 
was a corpse before morning, and the same day 
was laid in a grave beneath the bamboos. The 
Bremners put up the board with his name and the 
date of his death upon it; but tropical rain and 
sun had quickly removed all trace of these, and 
the family themselves had even forgotten his 
name. This was not the first unknown grave I 
had met with in this country, and standing by it, 
I could not but recall those beautiful and appro- 
priate lines by Alaric Watts 

" He left his home with a swelling sail, 

Of fame and fortune dreaming, 
And a spirit as free as the vernal gale, 

And the pennon above him streaming. 
He reached his goal ; 'neath a sultry sun 

In a distant land they've laid him, 


And stranger-forms bent o'er his grave, 
Whilst the last sad rites were paid him. 

But why repine ? Can he feel the rays 
That pestilent sun sheds o'er him ? " 

I was anxious at one time to attempt a collection 
of the inscriptions on the numerous old graves 
which are scattered about the colony, and I made 
an appeal to the clergy, officials, and general 
public to aid me in the matter. With that purpose 
I had a leaflet printed, explaining my wants, and 
quoting the lines of Alaric Watts as above. I 
forwarded these leaflets to all persons in authority, 
and amongst others to Inspector Stevenson on the 
west coast, and he in his turn sent them on to 
the different police-stations in his district. He 
was astonished at receiving the following report : 


" Fellowship Station. 

" Received your instructions. Have made all 
inquiries, and searched the country. No grave of 
Alaric Watts discovered ; name not known in the 
neighbourhood/ 1 

The old post of Sebacabra is an interesting 
place. A granite hill rises abruptly from the 
river, blocking its course, and forcing it to make 
a sharp curve to the left. The hill is nearly 
denuded of trees, which have been cut down to 
allow the grass to grow for cattle ; here and there 
clumps of palms and bamboos break the skyline, 
or stand out against the hill. On the shelving 


granite rocks at the river's brink the house is 
built, surrounded by fruit trees. When I first 
visited the river, Seba belonged to a woodcutter 
named Allicock, who lived there with his wife, 
pretty little daughter, and sister-in-law. Mrs. 
Allicock was a white lady of Scotch descent, and 
a very handsome, dignified body she was. There 
was a deep pool in the river in front of the house, 
and this we used to draw with a seine on moon- 
light nights, landing at times a great number of 
strange and bright-hued fishes. One night, as 
we were hauling, paddling slowly in two boats, 
the seine felt very heavy, and we thought that 
we had made a fine haul of fish, when suddenly 
from the centre of the net arose a huge monster, 
black as ink against the moonlight, with great 
dark jaws extended into the air. With loud ex- 
clamations of terror, the Indians dropped the lines, 
and, with a sudden splash, the monster fell back 
into the deep. " Good heavens, Allicock ! what 
is that ? " I exclaimed. " I don't know," said he ; 
" never saw anything like it before." The bucks 
were talking in a low voice amongst themselves, 
and I caught the word " water-mamma," which 
is a legendary monster, supposed to inhabit certain 
reaches of the river, and to drag unfortunate 
wayfarers under the waves. However, water- 
mamma or not, we must have it out if we can ; 
so the men resumed the ropes, and began hauling 
again, and once more the formidable monster 
reared up its bulk as before, and fell back with 
a resounding splash. Allicock burst out laughing. 


" I know what it is, sir ; it is an old sunk wood- 
skin ! " And so it was. A woodskin is an Indian 
canoe, made from the bark of the bullet tree, and 
kept open by two pieces of wood stretched across 
and fastened by llianes. Being somewhat pointed 
at both ends, as it was hauled up it seemed like 
the head of a huge alligator against the bright 

A dance was a great institution amongst the 
river folk. As many of them came from long 
distances, it was not thought worth while to spend 
only a few hours in dancing. On one occasion, 
when I was present, at Seba, the company met 
at six p.m., began dancing soon afterwards, kept 
it up till four a.m., and, after a long rest in the 
daytime, began again with renewed energy at 
sunset, and danced on to another dawn. The 
band consisted of an old 'cello, a fiddle, a triangle, 
and a tom-tom. 

Christianburgh, about seventy miles from 
Georgetown, was the residence of a Scotch family 
named Paterson. The house was one of the 
largest and best built in the colony. A large 
sawmill is near the house, worked by water-power, 
and behind stretch the red, shingle-roofed cottages 
of the employes. The landing-place was marked 
by a flagstaff, and flanked by two old Dutch 
cannon, which thundered forth a welcome when 
the Governor or some other swell paid a visit to 
the river. The interior of the house was a sur- 
prise to me when I first entered it, as it seemed 
to transport one back to the old country. There 


was, of course, an absence of carpets and curtains, 
but the furniture had all come from Scotland 
many years before. There was a large grand- 
father's clock ticking solemnly against the wall; 
an old spindle-legged sideboard, with brass handles 
of lions' heads, with rings in their mouths ; large 
horsehair-covered chairs ; thin-legged tables, and 
badly-painted oil portraits in dingy gilt frames 
against the walls. Upstairs, the bedrooms were 
nearly filled with huge wooden four-post beds, with 
heavy testers, into which one had to climb with 
the help of a chair. 

The dignified old widow who, in my time, 
presided over the establishment, was a fit jewel 
for such a case ; she was a living proof of the 
healthiness of the river for persons of temperate 
habits, as she retained her strength of mind and 
body to the last, and died at the advanced age 
of eighty-eight years. 

One of the most remarkable characters on the 
river was an old black man, named Alleyne, a 
sergeant of rural constables, who had charge of 
the Dalgin district. There were no police up the 
river higher than Hyde Park, a small village, 
twenty-five miles from town, opposite the Chinese 
settlement on the Camounie Creek ; the remainder 
of the river was guarded by rural constables, of 
which Alleyne was chief at Dalgin, and a man 
named Blunt (of whom more later) at Mora. 
Dalgin station was a low thatched house, in which 
one little room was reserved for the magistrate 
on his periodical visits, the narrow gallery being 


used as a court-room. There was no lock-up ; 
so, when I sentenced a man to imprisonment, 
Sergeant Alleyne used to chain him to a tree 
by the leg, until a convenient time arrived to 
send him to town. The house swarmed with 
bats, cockroaches, and all sorts of vermin; but 
one gets accustomed to these things in time, 
and they never disturbed my slumbers as I rocked 
in my long grass hammock slung from the roof- 
trees. Alleyne was a Barbadian by birth, and 
had been a slave in his youth. He came to 
British Guiana, when only a lad, in his master's 
train, and was employed as a wood- cutter and 
sawyer. When he became free, after Emanci- 
pation Day, he worked on his own account, and 
soon acquired enough money to take out a wood- 
cutting license, and, as green-heart was then 
selling at a good price, he prospered, bought two 
lots of land at Dalgin, and built the house which 
I have described. 

He was an honest, pleasant, respectful old 
gentleman, and many a yarn he would spin 
about his experiences in the old days. He was 
a great authority in the river ; people came to 
consult him on questions of law, or claim his 
protection in any difficulty. He also kept a small 
stock of simple medicines, which he sold to the 
sick, and had self-confidence enough to perform, 
on occasions, surgical operations. He described 
one to me. A man came to him suffering from 
a large tumour on his back, which Alleyne said 
must be removed. "But, surely, you didn't 

HOE A 169 

attempt it ? " said I. " You should have sent the 
man to the Colonial Hospital." " Oh yes, sir; 
I laid him on his face, and cut out the tumour 
with a small butcher's knife." " Good gracious ! 
But how did the man stand it ? " " Oh, I gave 
him half a bottle of brandy to deaden the pain ! 
But he groaned a great deal." " I should think 
he did," said I, laughing; but I warned him that 
he must not do such a thing again, as the man 
might have died, in which event Alleyne would 
have been tried for manslaughter. Alleyne was 
thrice married, and survived all his wives. 

Mora, another station higher up the river, near 
the Malali Eapids, was a still more dilapidated place 
than Dalgin. There was originally a wood-cutting 
grant there belonging to a man named Brittlebank, 
who sometime in the thirties obtained a grant of 
occupancy from the Government, and built a 
substantial house about one hundred yards from 
the river. The house was in bad repair when I 
first knew it, and consisted of one sitting-room 
and two small bedrooms ; the sitting-room was 
used by the magistrate on his visits, as a court- 
room and dining-room by day, and as a bedroom 
by night. Sleeping appliances are easy in the 
bush, and consist of an Indian hammock slung 
from rings which have been screwed into the 
beams which support the rafters. For bathing, we 
repaired to the river, and a small mirror hanging 
on the wall of the house was the only accessory to 
our toilet. 

Mora House was surrounded by enormous 


mango and orange trees ; the mangoes were as 
large as English oaks, and the fruit of the oranges 
was the best I ever tasted. It was a lovely spot, 
and many a happy day I spent there, walking, 
shooting, fishing, and sketching. As I have said, 
the post was in charge of a man named Arthur 
Blunt, a quadroon, the offspring of a Scotchman 
and a mulatto woman. His father had sent him 
to Glasgow as a boy, where he had received a fair 
education. He had been a wood-cutter on a small 
scale, and obtaining a grant near Mora, had 
established himself in Brittlebank's house. Brittle- 
bank himself had been dead some years; he is 
said to have been a miserly man, who buried his 
money under the hearth in his kitchen. Large 
sums were said to be so concealed, and after his 
death treasure-seekers used to visit his old quarters 
and dig about in all likely places in the hope of 
some rich discovery. One man is reputed to have 
returned to town and set up a shop, no one 
knowing where he got the money to stock it. 
The ghost of Brittlebank is said to haunt his old 
place, and may be seen hunting about and 
wringing his hands over his lost treasure. 

Blunt had been thrice married. His first wife 
was an Arawak Indian ; his second a Miss Forsyth, 
sister to Mrs. Allicock, of Seba ; and his third a 
mulatto ghi, who had inherited a buxom figure 
and a small fortune from her parents. He had 
children by all his wives, and they formed a 
strange variety of human types. British Guiana 
would have afforded an interesting study for 


Darwin, Spencer, and other ethnologists and 
sociologists, as owing to the numerous and distinct 
races inhabiting the colony, the most curious 
results of miscegenation are obtained. One of the 
prettiest girls I ever saw in the colony was the 
offspring of a Madras coolie and an Accawoio 

Blunt often accompanied me as my pilot up 
the rapids when I visited the higher reaches of 
the river, and I was much amused by his stories 
of river life, and by his comments on men and 
things. I remember how startled I was when I 
first knew him. We were paddling along under a 
broiling sky, between the high banks of forest 
which lined either side of the river. Blunt had 
the rudder-lines in his hands. We had not spoken 
for some minutes, when he turned to me and said, 
"What is your opinion, sir? Do you think 
Massena or Soult was the greatest general?" 
" Great Scott! man," I exclaimed, " what do you 
know about Massena or Soult ? " It turned out 
that a bug-hunter who visited the Demerara 
Eiver had been assisted by Blunt, and knowing 
his love of reading, had sent him some books, 
amongst which was Napier's " Peninsular War," 
hence Blunt's inquiries. However, it was rather 
a startling question to be asked by a bare-footed 
Boviander under the circumstances, and I felt 
somewhat at a loss to give an immediate opinion. 
At St. Helena I believe Napoleon gave his verdict 
in favour of Soult. 

My crew on the river was composed of Kroomen 


from Africa; they were splendid men, with filed 
teeth, and tattooed on their noses and cheeks. 
They were tireless oarsmen and splendid swimmers ; 
and when their arms hecame a little weary, they 
roused their spirits by chanting wild Kroo songs, 
which marked time to the measured beat of the 

Joe, my stroke and captain, was a sterling 
sober man, to be trusted to the end with life and 
property. He amused me often by his solicitude 
for my welfare. Once we had penetrated beyond 
the Great Falls to a country unknown to us all. 
Before sunset we landed at a sand hill to make our 
camp for the night, and unexpectedly found our- 
selves near a camp of Arecuna and Macusi Indians, 
who had gathered together for a piwarrie feast. 
I went amongst them, but found them half drunk, 
and in consequence ruder and surlier than any 
Indians I had met before. However, I slung my 
hammock near the waterside, and lulled by the 
singing and other sounds of revelry, soon slept 
the sleep of the just. I was awakened by some 
one shaking my hammock, and called out, " Who 
is that ? " " It's me, Bass," said Joe's voice. 
"What do you want?" "Bass, this no good 
place ; too much bad man here." " Oh, nonsense ; 
go to sleep." But nothing would stop him; he 
kept shaking my hammock and saying, "Let we 
go, Bass; not good for stop," until he finally 
worried me out of my hammock, which he quickly 
unslung, and guiding me to the boat, I was soon 
aboard, and rolled up in my rug under the awning 


I completed my broken slumbers. When I awoke 
it was broad daylight, and we were some miles 
from our Indian friends. On cross-questioning 
Joe, he said that the Indians were getting very 
drunk and quarrelsome ; they had bows, guns, and 
knives, and he was afraid they might do us some 
injury. I couldn't help thinking that he had one 
thought for me and another for himself and his 
chums, as there is no love lost between the 
Indians and the Africans, as in the old days the 
Indians were subsidized by the Government to 
catch all runaway slaves. These runaway slaves 
were sometimes not captured, but formed settle- 
ments in the forest, and were known as maroons. 
These men took Indian wives, and their de- 
scendants were gradually absorbed in the Indian 
stock ; but you can still trace the negro blood. 
In a trip which I made up the Berbice Biver with 
my old friend Bridges, M. Ledoux, Vice-Consul of 
France, and Arthur Braud, of Mon Kepos, we met 
at the Vieruni Creek and at Tiger Hill a number 
of Indians who had curly hair, and other marks of 
the negro type about them. 



Decay of river population Kise of the gold industr} r Kanaimapoo 
Mecropie Water-mammas Coomarroo Vampire bats George 
Couchman Visit to the Orarumalali Falls Derrire Hill Comarra- 
marra Koomparoo Rapids Camanna fish Carroquia Eneyeudah 
mission Thunderstorm Great Falls Snakes Palaver with the 
Indians Captain Tiger Dyed Indians Scarlet dog Her Majesty's 
penal settlement Massaruni River Ticket-of-leave men Convicts 
Their sentiments Confidence in magistrates The wife of Ramdass 
Kykoveral Fort Island Fred Hamblin Theatrical entertain- 
ment West Indian Regiment Colonel Fygelmesy New Amsterdam 
tall Old Woolward Life in New Amsterdam Dr. Hackett 
Anthony Trollope Official etiquette D. M. Gallagher Lunatic 
Asylum Corentyne coast Smuggling Wild duck shooting- 
Elections Vendue Atlantic voyages. 

THE river population has much decreased of late 
years, owing, in a great degree, to the decline in 
the timber trade. Nearly all the old houses 
belonging to a sturdy race of Bovianders have 

Wooden buildings in the damp heat of the 
equatorial belt are soon destroyed, if abandoned for 
a few years. Ants, beetles, and other vermin 
finish the damage which damp has begun, and, 
in a few years, a heap of bricks, where the kitchen 
and house-pillars stood, are the sole remains of 
a once flourishing homestead. Two or three 


stately cabbage palms, and some huge mango, 
orange, and calabash trees show where the hands 
of man once laboured to make a home in the 

Now there are police-stations at different places 
for a hundred miles up the river ; a bi-weekly 
steamer carries officials, police, and mails seventy 
miles of that distance, and a steam launch runs 
up to the first rapids. A railway has been con- 
structed to unite the Demerara and Essequibo 
rivers ; a gold mine had been worked at a spot 
just below the Great Falls. So the old life of the 
river has passed away, and it has become a mere 
highway for gold-diggers and speculators. The 
gold company up the Demerara River was called 
the Kanaimapoo, which reminds me of an old 
Accawoio chief of the same name, who lived on 
a sand hill near the place where the mine is now 
located. When I first saw him, in 1872, he was 
a very old man tall for an Indian, his whole body 
covered with innumerable wrinkles. He was attired 
in the customary lapp, suspended from a string 
round his waist, and on his head an enormous black 
beaver topper, which had been presented to him 
by a former governor. He carried in his hand a 
long walking-stick with a round knob on the top 
the emblem of his authority. He was a wonderful 
spectacle, and had a very good opinion of himself. 
" De Gubna," he told me in his broken English, 
" he tell me Kanaimapoo you come town; we 
make you G-ubment Sectry, anyting you like ; but 
when me tought ob de cassada me couldn't go." 


Cassava is the favourite and principal food of 
the Indians, which the chief evidently thought he 
could not get in Georgetown. 

Mecropie is the name of a hill beyond the 
Malali Rapids. It has a bad reputation with the 
Indians, and they are always unusually silent and 
watchful as they glide round the deep pool which 
lies under its shadow. If it be possible, as it 
often is, to find an eetaboo, they will pass through 
it to avoid the dreaded hill. They have a legend 
that some black runaway slaves were shot there, 
and thrown from the hill into the river, where they 
were turned into water-mammas, and these water- 
mammas are always on the look-out for unwary 
travellers, upset their canoes, and drag them down 
into horrid depths. The Indians thoroughly believe 
in these water-spirits, and that great danger awaits 
any one who passes by their caves and retreats. 
There are different kinds of water-mammas. Some 
are extremely beautiful, Circe-like creatures, with 
golden hair and sweet voices, and, when they sing, 
madness seizes the traveller, and he leaps into the 
water, and sinks for ever beneath the waves ; 
others are hideous, like Medusa, with snakes 
twined round their heads and bosoms, and with 
their huge claw-like hands they drag boats down 
and drown their occupants. Circes, mermaids, 
and sirens seem to be as well known in the New 
World as in the Old. 

At Coomarroo, above Akyma, a Frenchman 
had established himself, squatting on Crown land. 
Like most of his nation, he was of an excitable 


temperament, and when he was in his cups he 
formed the impression that the Indians were 
coming to murder him ; so every hoat or canoe 
he saw approaching his landing, he greeted with 
a charge of shot from his fowling-piece. These 
friendly attentions prevented him from heing 
troubled with many afternoon callers, so he was 
left alone, and, I believe, perished miserably. 

Vampire bats are very troublesome to travellers 
in the forests of Guiana. Whenever I slept out 
in the bush, I had a lamp burning over my 
hammock to scare them away. Old Mr. Couch- 
man, a coloured woodcutter and J.P. up the 
Demerara Eiver, amused me by a story of a 
missionary, who stopped at his house in his 
travels. When the worthy man retired to his 
hammock in the open gallery, Couchman advised 
him to allow him to hang a lamp over his sleeping- 
place, but it was refused, the missionary saying 
that he put his trust in a higher power. About 
one a.m. Couchman was aroused by shouts from 
the missionary, " Mr. Couchman ! Mr. Couchman ! 
come quick ! " Eunning to his assistance, Couch- 
man found that a vampire bat had settled above 
the unfortunate man's nose, bitten out a triangular 
piece of skin, and from the wound the blood had 
trickled down over his beard and shirt. 

Blunt once showed me fifteen marks on his 
feet and legs which vampires had made. When 
they fasten on to you, they fan you gently with 
their wings, and you never awaken until the loss 
of blood causes an unpleasant sensation. 



In September, 1873, during one of my magis- 
terial circuits, I paid a visit to the Oraru-Malali 
Falls of the Demerara Eiver for the first time. 
I was staying with Mr. George Couchman at his 
house, "The Retreat/' when he offered to take 
me up, an offer which I gladly accepted. It was 
on the 10th of September, at 5 a.m., when we 
made a start. After pulling for a few hours we 
passed Derrire Hill, the highest I had as yet seen 
in Demerara. The river about here is very lovely ; 
no houses, not even buck-huts ; for miles we never 
saw a soul. The stream was very strong, so our 
progress was not rapid. We stopped about noon 
for breakfast at a pretty place called Coomarra- 
mara, where is a small creek of clear water, like 
rain-water, unlike most of the rivers and creeks in 
the colony, whose waters are the colour of weak 
coffee. We climbed a steep sand bank, which was 
surmounted by two or three buck-huts, in which 
we found a couple of good-looking girls swinging 
in their hammocks. One of them had just been 
confined, and I nearly sat down upon the baby, 
which was rolled up in another hammock, and 
quite invisible. We had a merry breakfast, 
although the heat was frightful, and starting again 
at 1 p.m., two hours' pulling brought us to the 
foot of the Koomparoo Rapids. The entrance to 
the rapid was almost closed up by low rocks, 
bright crimson purple in colour, one or two of the 
largest covered with bush; but there were two 
fair channels through which the river rushed. 
For a mile we went up the swirling waters to the 


head of the rapid, where another ledge of rocks 
seemed to bar our exit. In getting round to the 
most practicable channel, we were washed on to 
a gravel bank. All hands overboard to track the 
boat off, then all in at once, and pull like fury to 
avoid the back eddy, and take us over the race. 
However, it was all accomplished safely, and we 
were soon in smooth water. We met some bucks 
in their woodskins above the rapids, and they gave 
us some camanna, a fish like a small bream, with 
half a dozen large scarlet spots on each side, which 
were pretty to look at, and good for food. A few 
miles further we passed Caroquia, which is another 
place avoided by the Indians. Their water- 
mammas in this place take the shape of huge 
scarlet macaws, which rise out of the river and 
drag them beneath the water, woodskins and alL 
We had the usual thunderstorm at 4.30, and when 
it cleared away we could see the lofty hill behind 
the Great Falls looking black and solemn ; against 
its dark background could be seen the mist from 
the cataract rising and floating away in white 
streamers, whilst the vivid lightning behind the 
hill threw its outlines into high relief. 

It was quite dark when we reached the hill 
on which the Eneyeudah Mission was built. We 
scrambled up, and were guided to the wretched 
hut inhabited by the superintendent, a miserable 
old man who did nothing but bewail his rheumatism 
and dismal fate. He brightened up as he watched 
the unpacking of the stores; his eyes sparkled 
at sight of rny brandy bottle, and in his eagerness 


to drink a glassful which I gave him he spilt 
some of the liquid down his grey beard. Every- 
thing was soaking wet with the tremendous rain ; 
but as the floor in old Shaw's (the superintendent's) 
hut seemed pretty dry, Couchman and I slung our 
hammocks there. Sergeant Alleyne and the men 
went into the church, which consisted of a dozen 
poles supporting a roof of cucurrite palm leaves. 
We managed to dine in a rough way, and, after a 
cup of good tea, turned into our hammocks with a 
cigar. Certainly a cigar in your hammock in the 
balmy air of a tropical night is a pleasing sensation. 
We were soon asleep, to be rudely awakened by 
a violent thunder-storm. The thunder shook our 
frail house, the lightning dazzled us with its 
incessant glare, and the rain came down in 
torrents. Loud grumblings from Couchman ; the 
rain was pouring into his hammock, so he tumbled 
out. " Oh ! " said I, " I am quite dry ; come and 
sling near to me." Alas! I had hardly spoken 
when splodge! splodge! came the rain in my 
face. It was no use moving, so I wrapped myself 
in a rug, spread my overcoat as well as I could 
over me, and wished for the dawn. 

The longest night must end, so at last the day 
broke, and a strong cup of coffee, with an egg 
beaten up in it and well laced with brandy, set 
us all to rights. As soon as it was light we set 
off to the falls, leaving Alleyne and one of the 
hands to cook breakfast, taking a tall Accawoio 
Indian with us. The morning was damp and 
misty, but by 7 a.m. the sun shone out, and 


the clouds rolled away. Soon after we left our 
landing-place we met great clots of foam, like 
cream cheese, floating down the river ; soon we 
heard the rush of the water, and half an hour's 
pull brought us in sight of the fall. We landed 
on a sandy beach, and I sat down to make a 
sketch of the general view. Unfortunately, there 
is an island of rocks in the middle of the fall, 
dividing it into two parts, and the rocks being 
covered with trees, the head of the cataract was 
invisible from where I sat. We pulled across the 
deep swirling pool, and landed on the rocks at 
the foot of the cataract. These rocks are of a 
dark purplish colour, and cut on them we found 
the names of former travellers ; one, C. F. Cox, 
1826, was quite readable. Couchman and myself 
set off for a scramble over rocks and fallen trees 
to the head of the fall. It was a very trying 
ascent, the boulders were so large and slippery 
with moss; great fallen trees blocked our way, 
but we found a kind of rough track made by the 
Indians, and, after a tremendous scramble, we got 
up to the head of the waterfall, the sight of which 
well repaid our trouble. A dark, purple-brown 
river, forty to fifty yards wide, is suddenly con- 
tracted and sent headlong down ledges of rock to 
the depth of nearly seventy feet. Halfway down 
it is divided, as I have said, by a rocky island 
covered with trees, which splits the falling 
water, and, whilst diminishing its grandeur, adds 
to its beauty. The whole is surrounded by 
the most luxuriant vegetation; the most lovely 


orchids, ferns, selaginellas, and mosses drink 
in the ever-rising mist and spray ; brilliant 
butterflies and kingfishers shoot over the waters 
with a velocity almost equal to their own ; whilst 
the great fish-eagles swoop down into the pool 
at the foot of the fall, and seize the struggling 
himaira. In the rainy season it must be a grand 
spectacle, and its mighty roar can then be heard 
in the stillness of night as far as Aniparoo, a 
distance of eight miles. Ibe Falls are in latitude 
5 8' 2" N. 

I wished I could have lingered for a whole day 
collecting ferns and sketching, but we had no 
time to stop ; so down we went, breaking our 
shins over the rocks and trees, till we reached the 
boat, dirty and exhausted. As for heat, it was 
indescribable ; the whole place was like a vapour 
bath, and the exertions we had made nearly killed 
us. Even the tough, wiry Couchman was wet 
through and done up for a time. I didn't get 
back my breath till we had shot down to our 
resting-place, much quicker than we had come 
up. We found that the noble sergeant had an 
excellent breakfast for us fried himaira, tinned 
sausages, pepper pot, buck yams, beer, and 
brandy; so, after a plunge in the river, and a 
good rub down, we made a hearty meal. After 
breakfast, the Indians brought two snakes, which 
they had killed early in the morning in front of 
our quarters. One was the labarri, a snake about 
four feet long, of a light brown colour, with 
chestnut streaks on the back and sides. It is said 


to be the most deadly snake in the country. The 
other was the lanaria, a large snake, ahout six feet 
long, bluish-grey back and whitish belly ; it is 
also poisonous, and a cannibal, devouring other 
smaller snakes. 

In the mean while, Alleyne had mustered the 
Indians, under their chief, Captain Tiger, for a 
palaver. They were all of the Accawoio race, a 
tallish, handsome people with straight black hair, 
small eyes, and high cheek-bones. They were 
all almost entirely nude, except Captain Tiger, 
who rejoiced in a striped cotton shirt and felt 
wideawake. The younger women were not bad 
looking, but many of them were in a condition 
more interesting than elegant. The children were 
pretty, though very pot-bellied, and they crawled 
about my feet with complete confidence. I 
harangued the people, through Couchman ae 
interpreter, and told them of their good deeds 
and misdeeds. It was a curious scene : myself 
in cricketing flannels, cigar in mouth; Captain 
Tiger standing opposite with his legs wide apart ; 
a double row of bucks squatting on their hams 
on one side, a number of women standing or 
squatting on the other; the perpendicular sun 
and dark shadows ; the rude buck-huts and 
graceful palms; the glaring white sand, across 
which numerous lizards were darting ; in the 
background, the dark hills and the roar of the 
distant cataract. The palaver was soon over, 
some medicine and tobacco distributed, farewells 
said, and we were afloat again, this time with our 


faces homewards. Merrily the boat shot down 
the stream, the Kroomen finding the work very 
different to the previous day, for, although we did 
not start until noon, we were at Mr. Couchman's 
by 5 p.m., doing in five hours what took us 
twelve on the previous day. 

On our way down we saw some strange figures 
on the river's bank, so I sent Alleyne to bring 
them for inspection. After some difficulty he 
persuaded them to come with him, and he 
returned with four bucks in their usual undress, 
and with their legs painted a bright vermilion. 
We discovered that they were Accawoios from the 
Potaro Eiver, and were returning home by the 
Koomparoo path to the Essequibo Eiver. There 
were two men, a young woman and an old one. 
They had a dog with them painted all over with 
vermilion, which made it look frightful. This 
painting was to keep off that irritating tick called 
bete rouge or patouche. 

We shot the Koomparoo Kapids without diffi- 
culty, the boat leaping and rushing the waters like 
a horse. By Derrire Hill we heard the note of 
the ecarnanya, which the Indians say always fore- 
tells good news to any one who hears it. 

One of the prettiest places in the colony is Her 
Majesty's penal settlement, on the left bank of the 
Massaruni Eiver, about sixty miles from George- 
town, and three miles above Bartica. It is situated 
on a low granite hill, which slopes down to the 
river ; it was established in 1845. When I came 
to the colony there was no Inspector of prisons, so 


one of the stipendiary magistrates was detailed by 
the Governor every month to visit and inspect 
the penal settlement, and report on its condition. 
I was sent up twice on this errand, and enjoyed 
the trip, as the country was pretty, and a pleasant 
change from the dismal flatness of the coast. I 
remember old General Munro, who was command- 
ing the troops in the West Indies, went up with 
me on one occasion, and he was so pleased with 
the settlement that he told Governor Scott on his 
return, "Why don't you all go and live up the 
Massaruni, and send the convicts to Georgetown ? 
They are much better located than you are." 

On another occasion I paid a visit in distin- 
guished company. One dull morning in April, 
1874, the s.s. Rattlesnake left the steamer stelling 
in Georgetown at 8 a.m., bound for the penal 
settlement. Our party consisted of H.E. Sir J. B. 
Longden, with his private secretary, Fred Ham- 
blin ; Edward N. Walker, Acting Government 
Secretary, now Sir Edw. Noel Walker, K.C.M.G., 
Colonial Secretary of Ceylon ; Mr. N. Cox, Inspec- 
tor-General of Police ; Mr. W. B. Pollard, Colonial 
Civil Engineer ; Mrs. Kirke, and myself. The 
water was calm as we steamed into the Atlantic, 
and, although a slight shower fell, it was fine 
weather when we turned into the vast estuary of 
the Essequibo (twenty miles wide), passing the 
island of Leguan between 10 and 11 a.m. We 
steamed quickly through the hundred islands of 
the Essequibo, and turned into the Massaruni 
about 3.30 p.m. We left Bartica, and passing 


Kaow Island and its leper asylum on our right, we 
soon came in sight of the prison. We landed at 
4 p.m., and walked up a steep path to the com- 
missioner's house, where quarters were assigned 
to us. 

There are ahout two hundred to two hundred 
and fifty convicts at Massaruni, though of course 
their numher varies. They are principally em- 
ployed in quarrying granite, which is sent to 
Georgetown for building and paving purposes. The 
whole of the sea-wall, two miles in length, is 
built of granite from the penal settlement. There 
is also a large farm on which the weaker men are 
employed ; and large quantities of vegetables are 
raised for the use of the convicts, and cows and 
sheep supply the establishment with milk and 
meat. The convicts are well looked after, and 
seem to lead a pleasant life ; in fact, the old 
hands are seldom averse to returning thither. 
Captain Portlock Dadson, a late superintendent 
of the settlement, told me that when he was 
building the new stone jetty and river-wall at the 
stelling his foreman and best mason was a sturdy 
old convict, whose long term of penal servitude 
was just expiring, and he was about to be released 
on ticket-of-leave ; so Captain Dadson said to him, 
" I am sorry, William, you are going out to- 
morrow, for I don't know whom I can get to 
take your place as foreman." The man replied, 
"Don't vex, Bass; me soon come back again and 
finish the job." And so he did. Before many 
weeks were over he was sent back to the penal 


settlement for ten years, for burglary and larceny, 
and was able to superintend the completion of the 

The convicts of superior education white men 
who cannot work under a tropical sun are em- 
ployed as clerks, book-keepers, and billiard-markers. 
On one occasion, playing a game of billiards, our 
marker was a young Portuguese, who had been 
tried and sentenced to death for the brutal murder 
of a girl in Georgetown. 

In later days, when I have visited the settle- 
ment, I have recognized scores of men who have 
been before me when sitting as judge or magistrate, 
and they generally recognize me ; many of them 
smile and touch their caps; a few scowl at me 
with such a ferocious aspect that I am pleased to 
think sentries with loaded rifles are surrounding 
us. But this is an exception, for, as a rule, con- 
victs and prisoners bear no grudge against the 
judge or magistrate who tries and sentences them ; 
their hatred is directed against the persons who 
caused their arrest, or who gave evidence against 
them. They clearly understand that the magis- 
trates and police are paid officials who must do 
their duty and earn their pay. I have often been 
addressed in the most friendly manner by men 
whom I had sentenced to imprisonment, and who 
seemed quite hurt if I didn't remember them and 
all their troubles. 

But the greatest mark of confidence ever shown 
to me was by an East Indian immigrant in Esse- 
quibo. He was a splendid man, tall and handsome, 


a driver on Plantation Johanna Cecilia, but lie had 
a violent temper, and would often strike the men 
under his charge, sometimes very severely. He 
had been brought before me, as sheriff, on two 
occasions, and I had fined him, and on the last 
appearance I had warned him that next time he 
was convicted of a similar offence he must go to 
gaol. Some weeks afterwards he was again 
brought before me at Suddie, charged with 
assaulting and beating an indentured immigrant 
at Johanna Cecilia. He pleaded guilty, and, 
reminding him of my promise, I sentenced him 
to thirty days' imprisonment with hard labour. He 
salaamed in silence as he left the dock. The next 
morning, as I was sitting in my gallery at Sarnia 
House, a fine, tall Hindoo arrived, leading a very 
pretty young Indian woman, covered with jewelry, 
and attired in bright colours. They came upstairs 
into the gallery, and after profound salaams the 
man said, " Sahib, you sent me brudder gaol 
yesterday." " Oh," I said, "is Kamdass your 
brother?" "Yes, and me brudder say, suppose 
magistrate sahib send em gaol, wife take em and 
tell magistrate sahib for keep em, so sahib me 
bring em," pointing to the young lady, who gave 
me a raking look out of her large eyes, and then 
turned them modestly to the floor. It was some 
time before I could convince him that such a thing 
was impossible ; till at last they went away much 
disappointed, the young lady pouting somewhat 
spretse injuria formse. Young handsome women, 
whose husbands are sent to gaol, run great risks on 


sugar estates, where there are scores of young men 
unprovided with wives ; so I presume that Eamdass 
preferred that the sheriff alone should look after 
his wife, rather than leave her to the tender mercies 
of his countrymen. 

We were comfortably established in the com- 
missioner's house, which is one of the finest houses 
in the colony, built entirely of crab-wood. My 
wife strolled with me over to the cemetery and 
the farm, whilst the Governor and other officials 
inspected the prison. We spent two pleasant days 
at Massaruni, visiting various places of interest a 
village of Accawoio Indians on the banks of the 
Cuyuni ; the island of Kykoveral, which was in old 
days the seat of the Dutch governors, and where 
may still be seen a noble arched gateway, the 
entrance to the old fort. 

We had two amusing accidents during our stay. 
At breakfast one morning, sitting opposite the 
Governor, and arguing warmly with him on some 
subject, my chair, undermined by wood ants, 
collapsed altogether, and I shot under the table. 
The surgeon and two other gentlemen rushed at 
me, and dragged me out ; the former, thinking I 
had a fit, was dancing round like Bob Sawyer 
with his lancet; however, nothing but laughter 
occurred. Again, we had all retired to rest one 
night, when we were awakened by an astounding 
noise, which resounded through the house like 
thunder. The men rushed out to see what had 
happened, and discovered that one of the hooks 
which supported Willie Pollard's hammock had 


been drawn out by his weight, and he had shot 
out on his head on to the floor with a mighty 

On our way back to town we landed at Fort 
Island in the Essequibo Eiver, which was the seat 
of government under the Dutch, after they left 
Kykoveral, where the commandant of Essequibo 
lived and ruled. We inspected the old fort, the 
citadel of which is a definable ruin. Of the ancient 
Court of Policy Hall and adjoining church, the 
walls are still standing, and in the church there 
can still be deciphered the inscriptions on the 
tombs of the defunct worthies who lie buried 
within its precincts. Sir James Longden took 
great interest in these antiquities, and obtained 
an annual grant of money from the Combined 
Court to be devoted to their preservation. 

I have mentioned Fred Hamblin, the Governor's 
nephew and private secretary. He was one of the 
most charming men I ever met, and my most 
intimate friend from '74, until he left the colony. 
I never knew any man who could equal him in 
endurance. Many a night he has passed at the 
barracks dancing and card-playing, not going 
home till 6 a.m., yet at 7 a.m., after a bath and 
a cup of coffee, he would be found sitting in 
his office, calmly writing out despatches for the 
Secretary of State. I can recall some wild pranks 
which we were guilty of at this time. One night 
we had been acting Don Csesar de Bazan at the 
Philharmonic Hall ; I had been the " Don," and 
Harnblin had taken another character. We were 


both dressed in the height of fashion; velvet coats 
slashed with satin, deep lace collars and frills, pink 
satin tights, boots and spurs, long curled wigs and 
large hats with white plumes, large swords at our 
sides, and got-up faces ; we looked two proper 
ruffians. After the performance, dressed as we 
were, the whole company adjourned to the barracks 
at Eve Leary for supper; and at 1 a.m., after the 
ladies had retired, some one proposed loo, and we 
adjourned upstairs to Colonel Mould's rooms, and 
sat down to cards. We played on until the morn- 
ing gun fired at 5 a.m., when some one suggested 
it was about time to go home ; but a big pool 
was on, and then some one was looed again, so 
that before everything was satisfactorily settled 
it was broad daylight, and all the people were 
turning out to market. We then realized the 
state we were in. It was impossible to get a cab, 
so, as each moment made things worse, Hamblin 
and I pulled our large hats over our faces, drew 
our swords and started at full pace over the 
parade ground, down Parade Street, across the 
canal bridge and railway, shouting, waving our 
swords, and scattering the people as we tore along. 
Cries of " Ow ! ow ! oh, me Gad ! what is this ? " 
met us on all sides as we dashed down Main Street, 
and I bolted into my lodgings at the corner of 
Newmarket Street, and nearly frightened my old 
landlady, Miss Eose, into a fit as I met her on the 

Some of the young officers of the West Indian 
Eegiment were wild devils. Two of them played 


a joke which, might have cost them their com- 
missions. The American Consul at that time in 
Georgetown was Colonel Fygelmesy, a Hungarian 
warrior and patriot, aide-de-camp to Kossuth, and 
a beau sabreur. Proud and particular, he was just 
the butt for these wild dare-devils. In front of 
his house the Consul had erected a huge flag-staff, 
which he had designedly made taller than the 
neighbouring one at Government House, so that 
the Stars and Stripes might flaunt in the breeze 
higher than the Union Jack. This offended the 
soldiers ; so one night two of them, having shot 
an old carrion crow, and purchased a useful article 
of bedroom furniture which is usually kept con- 
cealed, fastened the two together and hoisted them 
up to the top of the American Consul's flag-staff. 
Intense was the wrath of that warrior when he 
arose in the morning, and saw these vile objects 
suspended in the place where the flag of his 
adopted country should wave. Dressing in haste, 
he rushed over to Government House, demanded 
an audience of the Governor, and the detection 
and punishment of these miscreants who had 
insulted the United States flag. He reported the 
matter to his Government, and made such a fuss 
over the incident that the Governor ordered every 
inquiry to be made by the police. But senior 
Inspector Hill, who was detailed for this service, 
and who was a great friend of the soldiers, whilst 
prosecuting his inquiries with great apparent 
vigour, took care that nothing incriminating any 
one should be discovered. Many of us knew the 


culprits, but of course we all sat tight and said 

In the same year, 1874, a grand ball was given 
to the Governor and Lady Longden in New 
Amsterdam, the capital of Berbice. Dancing and 
drinking were kept up with spirit until 5.30 a.m., 
when the last of the ladies disappeared. Some 
enthusiastic Scotchmen and Irishmen then began 
dancing reels. I walked over to the hotel at six, 
had a shower bath and some hot coffee, put on 
morning clothes and returned to the Town Hall, 
where I found some mad fellows still shouting and 
skipping about, whilst a wild Irishman had taken 
off his coat, was trailing it along the floor and 
requesting the company generally to tread on the 
tail of it. 

I joined the vice-regal party at 8 a.m., on 
board the s.s. Berbice, and we started for George- 
town, where, after a rough voyage, we arrived at 
3 p.m., and had just time for three hours' sleep 
before dressing for an official dinner at Govern- 
ment House. And all this with the thermometer 
never below 86 ! No wonder our livers used to 
get out of order; but it was all put down to 
" that dreadful climate." Old Woolward, the 
captain of the Dan, used to say " Demerara, yes 
you have fever in Demerara, and not content with 
that, but you must import more of it in wooden 
cases containing twelve bottles each." 

New Amsterdam in the seventies was a delight- 
ful place to visit. It was full of pretty women and 
jovial men, who were profuse in their hospitality. 



Never was such drinking. There used to be 
current in the colony some doggerel verses ahout 
swizzles, which ran as follows : 

" Essequibo for length, 
Demerara for strength, 
The city for plenty of ice 
But Berbice likes it long, 
And Berbice likes it strong 
And often, which really is nice ! " 

Doctor Hackett was the leading medical man, 
and one of the leaders of society. He used to 
give excellent dinners, and was the prince of good 
fellows. One evening I was dining with him 
alone, and he asked me after dinner to excuse 
him, as he must go to the public hospital to see 
a man, one of whose legs he had just taken off. I 
asked to be allowed to accompany him. When 
we got to the man's bedside, he turned his head 
in a drowsy way, and said, " Ow ! Dactah me 
mind move me, me consent for you take off me 
leg." The doctor was delighted, and stammered 
out, " Why, you d d old fool, your leg has been 
off hours ago." 

Anthony Trollope, in his amusing book The 
West Indies and Spanish Main, says, that in New 
Amsterdam three people make a crowd. Old Paris 
Britton's house, at which the novelist stayed, and 
which he called the best hotel in the West Indies, 
has long been pulled down. New Amsterdam is 
more like a Dutch town than an English one. It 
is certainly, especially of late years, a rather 
sleepy place. The old capital of Berbice was Fort 


Nassau, many miles up the Berbice Eiver. There 
are a great number of old Dutch tombs scattered 
about the country; some of the inscriptions on 
them are curious. On one, which commemorates 
the death of a man's wife and his two sons all in 
the same year, instead of the usual consolatory 
text, the sturdy Mynheer had relieved his sorrow 
and disgust by the words, " Gott vordamm Berbice " 
(God d n Berbice). 

When the Governor and Lady Longden went 
up to Berbice, I was residing in New Amsterdam 
as junior puisne judge. Of course the expected 
arrivals caused a flutter amongst the officials, and 
I was rather amused by their conduct. The 
morning of the day on which the Governor was 
expected, I received a visit from the Sheriff of 
Berbice, who said he had come to consult me 
as to whether he was not as sheriff the leading 
official in the county, and ought to be the person 
to receive the Governor, and give his arm to Lady 
Longden. I said certainly, no doubt about it. He 
expressed his gratitude and departed. Shortly 
afterwards, the Assistant Government Secretary was 
ushered in, and put the same question. I assured 
him there could be no doubt that, as he was the 
head of the executive branch of the Civil Service, 
he was the leading official. So they were both 
satisfied, but I was in a dilemma. I saw them, in 
my mind's eye, both rushing at Lady Longden, 
and nearly upsetting that charming lady in the 
eagerness of self-assertion. But, as good luck 
would have it, I heard that the Governor was 


coming overland, and would not arrive at Blair - 
mont Ferry, opposite the town, until about 4 
p.m. ; whereas Lady Longden was coming by 
steamer, and would reach New Amsterdam about 

3 p.m. ; so I wrote to the sheriff and told him 
the Governor would arrive at Blairmont about 

4 p.m., and that he as sheriff of the county, 
ought to meet him ; and I wrote to the Assistant 
Government Secretary, and told him that Lady 
Longden would arrive at three, in the steamer, 
and that he, as the leading official, must meet her, 
and lead her ashore. And so it came off, and both 
these great men were satisfied. 

Once, iii New Amsterdam, at a semi-public 
dinner, D. M. Gallagher, who was at the time 
Assistant Government Secretary, returned thanks 
for the Queen when her health was drunk; so 
he was promptly dubbed " Prince of Wales," and 
retained that name for some time. Not long 
afterwards Gallagher obtained leave of absence, 
and, on his way to England, he spent a day in 
Georgetown. Entering the Georgetown Club, he 
was boisterously greeted by our old friend E. W. 
Imlach, who slapped him on the back, exclaiming, 
" So, Gallagher, my boy, you are going home to 
see your august mamma ? " 

The lunatic asylum for the colony is located 
near New Amsterdam, in the old military barracks. 
It was most excellently managed by Dr. Grieve 
(afterwards Surgeon-General), who had similar 
experience in England before he came to the 
colony. I was conducted on one occasion through 




the asylum by the worthy doctor, and when we 
were passing through the women's wards a young, 
handsome quadroon girl, with long black hair 
falling down her back, rose from the bed on which 
she had been listlessly lying, and, advancing to 
me with rapid steps, threw her arms tight round 
my neck, and buried her face on my manly bosom 
with a sigh of relief. I naturally clasped my arm 
round the fair maiden, wondering what was going 
to happen next, and casting appealing looks at 
the doctor. He, unromantic person, seized the 
girl by the arm, and spoke to her sharply and 
severely, at which she released her hold, and went 
back sadly to her couch. The doctor said she 
was distraught by love betrayed, and perhaps I 
bore some resemblance to the lost one. 

At the extreme east of the colony stretches 
the Corentyne coast, bordering the river of that 
name, which divides British Guiana from the 
Dutch colony of Surinam. At the "time I am 
writing about there was much smuggling across 
the Corentyne Eiver. Nickerie, at the mouth of 
the river on the Dutch coast, was the starting- 
place for numerous boats laden with gin, brandy, 
and other contraband goods, which were landed 
at convenient places on the English territory. 
Early in the seventies I was staying at Whim 
with the acting magistrate in charge of that 
district. One morning when we came downstairs 
we saw in the gallery a large box painted green. 
" What is this ? " said the beak. " It looks un- 
commonly like a case of gin," said I. "Dear 


me, so it does! Let us see." So, calling for 
a chopper, lie prized open the lid, and there, in 
innocent repose, stood fifteen flasks of gin. 
"Keally, it looks like gin," said his worship; 
" but " with a twinkle in his eye "you cannot 
be certain unless you taste it." So a flask was 
uncorked, and we botn sampled the liquor, which 
turned out to be gin, and very good gin too. 
" It must have been left here by mistake. I 
never ordered any gin. However, we must keep 
it for the owner, whoever he is." So the case 
was securely locked up in the storeroom. In the 
evening we went out to shoot pigeons. Eeturning 
in the dusk, a man stopped our waggon, and, 
speaking to the magistrate, said, " I hope you got 
the box of dried fish all right, sir." " Oh, it's you 
who sent the fish ? Yes ; it came all right, and " 
slipping a five-dollar note into the man's hand 
" I hope you will be able 'to catch some more." 
The man took the money, smiled, touched his 
hat, and disappeared. 

It is a wonder that there is not more smuggling, 
considering the difference in price of smuggled 
and duty-paid spirits. Drink is in itself so cheap. 
There is whisky sold now in Demerara at $6.50 
and $7 a case of twelve quarts. The duty is about 
$3 a case, so that only leaves $3.50 or $4 to pay 
for the bottles, corks, cases, packing, straws, draw- 
ing, bottling, porterage, railway charges, ship 
freight, tonnage, harbour dues, etc. What can 
be the original price of the whisky, if it is to 
pay any profit to the seller? Good Demerara 


rum is quoted in London at 1$. a gallon, i.e. 2s. 
for a dozen reputed quarts. The duty on this is 
2 8s., and your wine-merchant puts on 65. for his 
profit, so you pay 36s. for what is not worth 2s. ; 
for the wine-merchant buys the rum at 38 over 
proof, and, with hot water, reduces it to 20 under 
proof, thereby almost doubling its volume by 
reducing its strength. 

Up the Corentyne River, at a creek called 
Sisters, used to be the best shooting-ground for 
Muscovy ducks. On one occasion there were 
four of us shooting in the creek, one of whom 
was Dr. Hackett. We were gliding slowly and 
noiselessly down the creek, two in each corial, 
looking out for the birds. The doctor, to obtain 
a better range, had perched himself on a gin-case, 
which he had balanced in the prow of the corial. 
Two fine ducks came down the creek over our 
heads ; the doctor fired his first barrel as they 
were coming towards him, missed, and, to get 
a second shot, threw himself back to get well in 
front of the birds. This action dislodged the gin- 
case, and, to our horror, the doctor went heels 
over head into the creek, his gun exploding as 
he went over. He soon reappeared at the surface, 
spluttering and ciirsing, but still holding on to 
his gun ; but we could hardly drag him out for 

In the olden days, when our staple industry 
was prosperous, and a good sugar estate " yielded 
an earl's income," money was spent in greater 
profusion than nowadays, and hospitality flourished 


exceedingly. When the elections to our local 
Parliament took place, it was customary for the 
candidates to send champagne to the returning- 
officer for the refreshment of their supporters. 
When I was Sheriff of Essequibo and, conse- 
quently, returning-officer for the county, I enjoyed 
a contested election it was a break in the 
monotony of my work, and, as each candidate 
sent me a case of champagne, it was an agreeable 
ceremony. The supporters of the candidates, who 
collected on the nomination day, rarely exceeded 
twenty, and, as the nomination took place at 
nine a.m., they never drank more than four or 
five bottles of champagne, so I carried the re- 
mainder home in my waggon. When Dare and 
Halliday contested the seat in Essequibo, we not 
only got our champagne, but the latter gentleman 
brought a special steamer from Georgetown to 
Suddie, and entertained on board a number of 
his friends and supporters with a sumptuous 
luncheon. The champagne and luncheon so in- 
spired two ardent supporters of Halliday, that, 
invading his house, they carried off to the poll an 
old bed-ridden gentleman residing at Plantation 
Johanna Cecilia, and made him record his vote 
for their candidate, with the result that the old 
man died the next day. As his relations and heirs 
were glad to be rid of him, nothing was said 
about it, and it only came to my ears some time 

A country auction sale a vendue, as it was 
called was one of the pleasant customs almost 


peculiar to the colony. When a manager of an 
estate was leaving the colony or removing to 
another part of the country, he held an auction 
sale of all his effects furniture, plate, glass, china, 
horses, carriages, cattle, pigs, poultry, plants, ferns, 
etc. This was advertised in the local newspapers 
for some time ; the auctioneer also sent reminders 
to those of the manager's friends whom he thought 
were most likely to purchase. On the day of the 
sale, if the manager were a popular man, all the 
officials, managers, clergy, and overseers within 
twenty miles would assemble at the place of sale. 
If it was a large affair, a special steamer or a 
special train would bring a large contingent from 
Georgetown. The compound around the house 
would be filled with waggons, dog-carts, and every 
kind of vehicle. The public would begin to arrive 
about ten a.m., and would pour in for hours. At 
eleven o'clock the auctioneer would Jead the way 
into a large room specially prepared, where was 
spread out a splendid cold breakfast, to which the 
guests sat down. Turkeys, hams, rounds of beef 
and saddles of mutton, mayonnaise of salmon and 
crab-backs quickly disappeared, washed down by 
beer, champagne, whisky, and soda. 

Primed by this good cheer, and wishing to 
help so hospitable a host, the purchasers were 
very brisk in their bids, and the auction proved 
a great success. In friendly rivalry, and with 
much chaff, men would bid against one another, 
in many instances not knowing what they were 
buying ; and roars of laughter would greet an 


ardent bidder when lie was found to have pur- 
chased for twenty dollars a little cruet-stand 
worth five shillings. Brandy, whisky, and soda 
were freely circulated all day; cigars were pre- 
sented to all his personal friends by the genial 
host, who moved about amongst the crowd, re- 
ceiving friendly greetings from all. The early 
tropical night would have begun to close in upon 
the scene before the last lot was disposed of and 
the excited buyers on their way home, sometimes, 
it must be confessed, driving in a somewhat 
eccentric manner, and retaining no recollection of 
what they had bought. A list of their purchases 
arrived next morning from the auctioneer, when 
they wondered how they could have made such 
fools of themselves as to buy a lot of things which 
they didn't want at extravagant prices. 

In going backwards and forwards to my official 
duties in British Guiana, I have crossed the 
Atlantic fourteen times. None of these voyages 
have presented any features of interest. I have 
never been wrecked, nor have our ships suffered 
from severe gales or fire. One voyage, however, 
was somewhat memorable, and deserves a short 
notice. In April, 1878, I was going home on 
leave ; but when we arrived at Barbados we 
were informed that the ocean steamer Tasmanian, 
in which we were to cross the Atlantic, had been 
wrecked at Fonts, in Puerto Eico, and that we 
must either wait for the next mail or go home 
in the Tiber, which was a small inter- colonial 
steamer. Many of the passengers, and most of 


the ladies, went ashore, but I decided to go on, 
so was transhipped to the Tiber, which sailed 
in a few hours for St. Lucia, there to await the 
passengers and crew of the wrecked vessel. We 
remained three days in St. Lucia. There were 
no troops there in those days, and it was a dreary 
spot socially, but the island itself was one of the 
most beautiful in the West Indies. We found 
a few ponies, and on these rode up and down the 
rough mountain roads ; we explored the inns and 
stores of Castries; held smoking concerts in the 
public square ; and, I fear, scandalized the re- 
spectable inhabitants by our noisy conduct. At 
last the Arno arrived, bringing the passengers and 
stores from the Tasmanian. The transfer to the 
Tiber was made as quickly as possible, and we 
were soon under way. The ship was crowded : 
the holds and cabins and decks were crammed 
with coal, stores, passengers, and stewards ; even 
the spar-deck was cumbered with barrels of beer 
and soda-water, and it was well for us that we had 
fine weather, as we were not in a condition to face 
a storm. As to the passengers, every cabin was 
full up ; those who could not get berths slept on 
sofas, under tables, anywhere they could find a 
place. I was in a small cabin in the fore saloon, 
with old Dr. Henery, and Keighley, of the 2nd West 
Indian Regiment. A number of wild young men 
had joined us from the Tasmanian ; young coffee- 
planters from Costa Eica, and gold-diggers from 
Mexico. One man, who had been collecting 
orchids in Guatemala for a London nurseryman, 


was nicknamed "Boots;" another good-looking, 
rakish fellow was called " Charcoal," from the 
refrain of a comic song which he was fond of 
singing. A jovial young fellow, who was lame 
and used crutches, received the soubriquet of 
" Quadruped." Dr. Henery, emerging on deck 
in the morning, was immediately hailed as 
" Beaconsfield," owing to his resemblance to 
that eminent statesman. Keighley was a wild 
devil, fond of practical jokes, so it was not long 
before he tried them on, with the usual results. 
" Boots " had a large garden syringe, so, wishing 
to pay off Keighley, he stole quietly into our cabin 
one night, and discharged the syringe full of dirty 
water into, as he thought, Keighley's ear, as he 
lay in his bunk ; but in the dim light he had made 
a mistake, and poor Dr. Henery was the recipient 
of his favours. The Doctor's shouts woke up 
Keighley and myself, and we sallied out with 
sticks to get at "Boots," but starting into the 
fore saloon, we fell over and into a lot of men 
sleeping on the deck, who received us with blows 
and curses, and a general melee ensued. These 
rows occurred every night, until one exasperated 
traveller brought out a revolver, and, loading it 
before our eyes, said he should begin shooting if 
he were disturbed again. The captain got alarmed, 
and stationed two armed quarter-masters in the 
saloon every night. " Boots " and " Charcoal " 
had their grog stopped at the bar, and our nights 
were afterwards not often disturbed. 

Of course, we had two breakfasts and two 


dinners. Keighley and I dined at the first 
dinner, and there was a crusty old gentleman in 
the second detachment who used to come to the 
top of the companion as we were cracking our 
nuts and enjoying a glass of port after dinner, and 
make audible remarks about keeping the table so 
long " Guzzling fellows," and such like. We 
didn't like this, so we marked down the old 
gentleman to his lair at night, which we found 
was under one of the dining-saloon tables; so 
one night, when the old gentleman was snoring 
under his table, lying on his back, " Boots," 
Keighley, and Co. lashed his arms and legs to 
the table-legs with the dinner napkins. Wanting 
to turn in his sleep, he couldn't move, and waking 
up, he began to roar at the top of his voice, till 
every one rushed into the saloon to see what 
was the matter. Despite these, and various other 
amusements, it was an uncomfortable voyage, and 
we were ah 1 glad when we anchored inside Plymouth 



Emancipation Immigration schemes East Indians Chinese Dangerous 
characters The coolie Invested savings Mowla Buksh Chan-a- 
fook The burglar and murderer Execution of Chinese at Suddie 
Christian Chinese Their honesty and sincerity Opium-smoking 
Gambling Settlement Camounie Creek Queer dishes Chinese 
immigrants ex "Corona" Similarity of appearance Concubines 
Suicides East Indian immigrants Scarcity of women Difficulty in 
obtaining wives Polyandry Purchase of wives Girl or cow 
Adultery Frequent murders Case of Seecharam Mutilation and 
murder of his wife Execution of Seecharam Transmigration of 
souls Indian superstitions Marriage at Aurora Tragic results. 

AFTEB the abolition of slavery it was found im- 
possible to carry on the cultivation of sugar 
estates in the West Indies and British Guiana 
without a steady and reliable supply of labour. 
The slaves, being free, understood freedom to mean 
that they need not work any more, and, as tropical 
conditions impose no very severe penalties on the 
idle, such as quickly overtake them in countries 
where labour is abundant and where there is a 
winter to face, they were able to persist in their 
views of the privileges of freedom. So the colon- 
ists were driven to import labour from afar, which 
laid the foundation for the present scheme of 
East Indian immigration, which has proved to be 
of equal benefit to the planters and the immigrants 


themselves. Owing to various causes, the supply 
of Indian immigrants was fluctuating, so the 
planters, considering it were wise to have two 
strings to their bow, advised the Government to 
open an agency in China for the introduction of 
Chinese immigrants. Unfortunately, owing to the 
duplicity of the Chinese Government and the 
rascality of the native sub-agents, instead of 
agricultural labourers, the emigrant ships were in 
many cases filled up in part with the offscour- 
ings of Canton gaol-birds, sturdy beggars, loafers, 
and vagabonds. These, when they arrived in the 
colony, and had been allotted to estates, showed 
no inclination for sustained toil in the fields, and 
nearly all of them deserted after a few months' 
experience. Some joined a community of their 
countrymen, who had settled on one of the numer- 
ous creeks up the Demerara River ; others took to 
peddling, rum-smuggling, illicit distillation, keep- 
ing gambling-houses and brothels ; whilst the worst 
amongst them returned to their former occupations 
of burglary, robbery, and petty larceny. As these 
last were powerful ruffians, and always carried a 
large, sharp, two-edged knife, which they never 
scrupled to use to avoid capture, it may well be 
supposed that they were a terror to all law-abiding 
citizens. Several cases of robbery, burglary and 
attempted murder, perpetrated by Chinese, came 
under my immediate notice when I was first 
appointed as a stipendiary magistrate in Guiana. 
The most serious of them all occurred on an estate 
situated on the east bank of the river Demerara. 


The Indian immigrants by honest labour amass 
a considerable amount of money. The coolie, as 
he is called in the colony, unlike a European, 
never wastes his acquired wealth in clothes, 
houses, horses, carnages, and servants ; he re- 
mains in the same wattle and daub hut, clothes or 
rather, does not clothe himself in the same soli- 
tary garment, a rather dirty dhooti, or loin-cloth, 
and eats the same boiled rice and vegetable curry 
as beforetime ; but he buys cows, which are a 
remunerative investment for his capital, and he 
loads his wives with about a hundredweight of 
silver bangles, armlets, foot-rings, nose-rings, and 
necklaces, till one feels surprised how the pretty 
little women for most of them are 4 ft. 8 in. or 
4 ft. 10 in. in height can walk along under such a 
burden. For himself he buys sovereigns at the 
bank, and, sending for a native goldsmith, he keeps 
him at his hut and under his eyes whilst the 
cunning man turns the sovereigns into large gold 
beads, a whole string of which he fastens securely 
with a strong cord round his shapely neck. This 
he wears day and night. I have frequently seen 
coolies working in a cane piece entirely naked, 
except for a turban and dhooti, and a string of 
gold beads or sovereigns round their necks. 

Mowla Buksh was a driver on Plantation 
Peter's Hall, an estate on the east bank. He 
had been fourteen years on the same place, and 
had lately risen to his present responsible position. 
He was a well-to-do man, so his wife was weighted 
with jewelry when she went to town or to the 


races ; and he himself wore at all times round his 
neck a splendid necklace of gold coins, the centre- 
piece being an American twenty-dollar gold eagle. 
The sight of this shining in the sun when Mowla 
went to work had excited the cupidity of Chan-a- 
fook, a Chinese pedlar, petty thief and occasional 
burglar, who used to perambulate the district on 
his cheating and nefarious transactions. One 
night Mowla Buksh was asleep on his charpoy, his 
wife was lying upon another in the same hut, when 
the door was deftly opened by Chan-a-fook, whose 
burglarious knowledge was more than a match for 
the simple fastenings of the coolie's hut. He 
softly, with cat-like steps on hands and feet, 
made his way to the Indian's bed. He was entirely 
naked, except for a cloth round his middle, in 
which he carried his long, sharp, two-edged knife. 
Kaising himself gently up as he approached the 
charpoy, and guided by the even breathing of the 
sleeper, he placed his left hand to the coolie's 
throat, and, withdrawing his knife from its sheath, 
he attempted cautiously to sever the string which 
supported the necklace round the Indian's neck. 
Whether the string was stronger than he expected, 
and more force had to be used, or from some other 
cause, Mowla Buksh awoke, to find the cold steel of 
the knife against his throat trying to cut through 
the string of his necklace. With a shout he 
sprang up. The Chinaman hastily retreated by the 
open door. Seizing his hackia-stick, and shouting 
" Chur! churl" (" Thief! thief! ") as loud as he 
could, Mowla Buksh rushed after him. The noise 



and shouting roused the other sleeping coolies in the 
range, and a dozen men turned out in pursuit ; 
but Mowla Buksh was some way ahead, and gain- 
ing rapidly on the Chinaman. The latter, when 
he found himself in danger of being overtaken and 
captured, turned sharply round upon his pursuer 
and, dodging the blow which Mowla aimed at him 
with his stick, plunged his great knife into the 
coolie's chest. With a groan, the unhappy man 
fell back on the ground, whilst Chan-a-fook, 
drawing out the knife, resumed his flight before 
the rest of the pursuers could reach him. The 
sight of their wounded comrade roused the re- 
maining pursuers to fresh exertions, and they 
soon came up with the Chinaman, who was 
getting blown ; but the first up repented of his 
rashness, for, as he attempted to put his hand on 
the man's shoulder, he shared the same fate as 
Mowla Buksh, and fell back mortally wounded. 

This made the other men more cautious, so 
with their long hackia-sticks they beat the China- 
man to the ground, but not before he had inflicted 
several nasty wounds with his razor-edged knife 
upon their naked bodies. In their rage they con- 
tinued to beat the now senseless Chinaman, and 
it is a wonder the man was not killed there and 
then ; but some one in authority came up, and by 
his instructions the Chinaman and his victims 
were all conveyed to the Estate's hospital. 

As the magistrate of the district, I was quickly 
informed of the occurrence, and drove up at day- 
break to take the depositions of the two stabbed 


men, who were not expected to live long. It was 
well I went at once, as poor Mowla Buksh and his 
companion in misfortune died shortly afterwards, 
having identified the Chinaman as the one who 
had killed them. The other men who were injured 
soon recovered, as they had only received flesh 
wounds, which were not serious. The wretched 
Chinaman himself had several bones broken, and 
had been beaten to a jelly, and it was some months 
before he was able to appear in court to answer 
the charges of murder and burglary preferred 
against him ; but eventually I took the depositions 
and he was committed for trial. He was convicted 
at the next session of the Supreme Criminal Court, 
was sentenced to death, and executed in due course. 

I once presided over the execution of a China- 
man in Essequibo, when I was sheriff there. He 
was not as stolid as is the custom of his race, but 
as we went to the scaffold, poured out a torrent of 
Chinese in a loud and excited voice. Thinking he 
might be making some request or prayer, I asked 
the interpreter what he was saying. The man 
seemed rather embarrassed, but as I pressed for 
an answer, he replied, " Oh, nothing, sir ; he is 
only cursing you and the judge." And he went 
on cursing to the last ; even when the rope was 
round his neck, and the cap dragged over his face, 
I could hear his mutterings in the strange Chinese 
language, half smothered by the white cloth mask, 
until the tightening of the rope, as he sank down 
the fatal drop, put an end to his curses for ever. 

As I have given an account of a bad China- 


man, I think it is only fair to say that the present 
Chinese inhabitants of British Guiana are most 
worthy, law-abiding people, giving little trouble to 
police or magistrate ; industrious, truthful, and 
honest, they make most excellent citizens. A 
Chinaman will try to overreach you in making a 
bargain, but once the bargain is made he will 
always stick to it with the utmost fidelity. Many 
of the Chinese have become Christians, and ex- 
cellent converts they are. They have built and 
maintain churches of their own in Georgetown 
and New Amsterdam, pay their own catechists, 
and are always ready to subscribe to any Christian 
charity. I am no great believer in missionary 
enterprise ; I am sure every honest Christian in 
the colony will confess that the attempt to con- 
vert the Hindoo and Mahommedan immigrants 
to Christianity has been an utter failure. But 
although a captious critic, I am bound to confess 
that the Chinese converts are, in my opinion, 
earnest, believing Christians. It is true that the 
Chinese have several vices, but they are not worse 
than those common to Europeans opium-smoking 
is one, and there are opium dens in Georgetown ; 
but I doubt whether opium-smoking, unless it is 
indulged in to excess, is more injurious than 
tobacco-smoking, and certainly not half as inju- 
rious as excessive drinking, not even to the man 
himself, and what a difference to the community ! 
More than half our crime is traceable to the influ- 
ence of drink, but who ever heard of a man who 
committed a crime under the influence of opium ? 


The smoking of ganje, or bhang, is a different 
matter: under its influence a man goes raging 
mad, and is liable to commit the most frightful 

Gambling is another of their vices, and one 
which it is impossible to eradicate. A Chinaman, 
when once inoculated with this disease for I can 
call it nothing else will stake everything. I knew 
of one case, where a man lost all his money, then 
his house and furniture, then his wife, and then 
he staked himself as a slave for six months and 
lost that, and, strange to say, he faithfully worked 
out his debt of honour, toiling for his master with- 
out wages for the allotted time, and then began life 
afresh, a saddened and, let us hope, a wiser man. 

I dined and slept at the house of a Chinese 
gentleman, up the Camounie Creek on the Deine- 
rara Kiver, one night in the seventies. He was a 
pleasant, jovial person, and as he understood some 
English we were able to converse together. He 
gave me an excellent dinner tannia soup, roast 
capon, cold tea, and excellent brandy (Hennessy's 
XXX). His wife was a jolly, moon-faced woman, 
with enormous jade earrings, and his children were 
as fat as butter. Thanking him for his hospitality, 
I expressed a wish that next time I dined with 
him young roast dog might be one of the dishes. 
He seemed rather angry at the suggestion. " No 
good Chinee eat bow-wow; bad Chineeman, he 
eat bow-wow." 

One gets accustomed to queer dishes in the 
bush. On one occasion, dining with a Chinaman, 


we had a peculiar sauce with our fish ; it was like 
clear melted butter, flavoured with some pungent 
herb. On inquiry I found it was an oil made by 
melting down the fat which lies like blubber between 
the skin and flesh of the great water camoudie, or 
python, which is so common in the South American 
rivers. There are several descriptions of python, 
boa-constrictor, or camoudie, as they are called. 
They are all very beautiful; one called the iri- 
descent camoudie is a perfect rainbow of colour. 

Armadillo is very good eating ; you bake him 
like a hedgehog in his shell, which drops off when 
the meat is cooked. Parrots and macaws make 
excellent soup. The large caterpillars, called 
groogroo worms because they are usually found 
in the groogroo palms, are much relished by some 
people, but I cannot say I like them. Jaguar 
steaks are eatable, and tapir and capybara make 
excellent pepper-pot. Monkeys are also very good 
eating, but I never could stomach them ; they 
are too human. Their flesh becomes quite white 
when boiled or stewed, and to see a small white 
hand dragged out of the pot by a fork is too 
suggestive of cannibalism to be pleasant. 

One of the last ship-loads of Chinese landed in 
the colony came in the Corona. They, like many 
of their predecessors, were mostly loafers picked up 
in the great Chinese cities, not many of them 
being agriculturists. They were well dressed and 
self-satisfied, always laughing and talking. They 
paraded Georgetown like Cook's tourists ; they 
travelled over it from end to end ; they climbed 


to the top of its highest buildings the better to 
enjoy the scenery ; they inspected the stores, the 
churches, the public buildings. They patronized 
the cabs to a liberal extent, as many as ten of them 
airing themselves in one vehicle at the same time. 
They chaffed the lower classes, and, with the 
greatest bonhomie, condescended to shake hands 
with some gentlemen whose appearance met with 
their approval. They took over the Governor's 
fish-pond at Kingston, opened the sluices, drained 
off the water, and then wading in, amused them- 
selves by catching the fish out of the mud, all the 
time with the greatest hilarity, and with uproarious 
laughter. They celebrated their safe arrival in the 
colony by a series of theatrical entertainments 
given under the portico of the Immigration Office. 
Some of them walked into my house, took up the 
ornaments and photographs on the tables, and 
inspected the plate on the sideboard ; all the time 
talking in loud voices, and roaring with laughter. 
Meeting my little boy, Arnold, a child of four, in 
the street, one of them picked him up and carried 
him for some distance on his shoulders, to the 
amusement of his comrades, and the terror of the 
boy's nurse. Only one thing amazed them, and that 
was a locomotive engine, and it they worshipped as 
a god. 

Mr. Crosby, the Immigration Agent-General, 
was at his wits' end, and, as his custom was, 
blessed his soul all day. At last the men were 
allotted to different estates and sent out of town, 
but very few of them became steady labourers. 


The Chinese are so much alike in features that 
it is very difficult to distinguish one man from 
another ; so when they deserted from estates it 
was difficult to identify and arrest them. As I 
have said, there was a Chinese settlement on 
the Camounie Creek, opposite Hyde Park Police 
Station, on the Demerara River, where there is a 
church and a catechist. Deserters from estates 
frequently make their way to this settlement, and 
it would be a bold policeman who would attempt 
to execute a warrant in its midst. The Chinese, 
as a rule, work hard and live well ; unlike the East 
Indian, they mingle freely with the black and 
coloured races. As Chinese women are scarce, the 
Chinaman has always a coloured woman as a 
concubine ; and they generally manage to get the 
best-looking girls in the place. The negro popula- 
tion, who make a butt of the patient Hindoo and 
bully his life out of him, are afraid of the China- 
man, and leave him alone. The heathen Chinee 
is, as a rule, a melancholy person : he takes life 
very seriously, he is not enamoured of it, and 
deprives himself of it with nonchalance on the 
least provocation any temporary calamity is 
sufficient to drive him to the fatal act. A new 
police-station and lock-up was erected at Anna 
Regina on the Aroabisce Coast in 1878. For the 
accommodation of the prisoners a wooden bench 
was placed round the walls of the lock-up. Un- 
fortunately, by standing on the bench, a prisoner 
could reach with his hands the iron-barred 
ventilators in the wall, so the first Chinaman who 


was imprisoned in the lock-up immediately hanged 
himself by strips of his torn-up clothing suspended 
from the bars of the window. I thought this was 
an isolated case of temporary insanity, but as all 
the Chinamen who were temporarily incarcerated 
in the same place despatched themselves in the 
same way, it was thought desirable to remove that 
part of the bench which was under the barred 
windows. After its removal no more suicides took 

Amongst the East Indian immigrants intro- 
duced into British Guiana the percentage of women 
is small ; there are, on an average, not more than 
thirty-five women to every hundred men, so it is 
impossible to provide each man with a wife. There 
is great difficulty in persuading women to emigrate 
from India. Perhaps I am wrong in this, as women 
in India have little chance of exercising their own 
will in the matter. I ought to have said that the 
male relations of a woman wishing to emigrate will 
do everything in their power to prevent her from 
doing so. In order, therefore, to procure enough 
women to make up the complement of a ship, 
the emigration agents in Calcutta are compelled to 
ship a number of women recruited from the bazaars, 
and not of good character. When landed in 
British Guiana, the Indian coolie, unless he 
has brought a wife with him, or has persuaded a 
female on board ship to live with him when he 
arrives, has very small chance of getting a wife 
until he has worked for some tyears and amassed 
sufficient money to enable him to purchase the 


daughter of a fellow-countryman who is blessed 
with a family. Owing to the scarcity of females, 
polyandry is often practised, three or four men 
living with one woman in apparent contentment. 

It can well be imagined on a large sugar estate 
where there are seven or eight hundred East 
Indians, most of whom are young men, that the 
husband of an attractive young wife has not a very 
easy life. Every inducement of love and money is 
tried to seduce the girl (for she is often only four- 
teen or fifteen years of age) to leave her husband, 
or, at any rate, to listen with acquiescence to the 
tales of love poured into her ears. So a jealous 
husband has a miserable life. He can never trust 
his wife out of his sight ; when he goes to work 
he takes her with him, or else leaves her in charge 
of his mother or some female relative who watches 
her all day. It must be remembered that with 
most married couples no love had preceded the 
marriage ceremony ; a young girl of ten or twelve 
years of age is sold to a man like a sheep without 
asking her consent, so no affection for her spouse 
can prevent her from dishonouring him. 

An amusing incident occurred once in court, 
which throws some light on coolie marriages. 
A little East Indian girl was giving her evidence 
about the defendant, who had recently proposed 
marriage to her under peculiar circumstances. 
The girl's mother owed defendant a debt, in settle- 
ment of which he wanted her cow. But he also 
wanted the woman's daughter, and proposed for 
her hand, on condition the cow went as dowry. 


" ' No, 7 said ine mudder, ' you can take de gal and 
leff de cow, no so take de cow, and leff de gal.' ' 
Here the little maiden became excited, and with 
raised voice informed the Court " And belieb me, 
Sah, de beast leff me wid me mudder, and took 
de cow." 

It is no wonder that a loveless marriage often 
leads to adultery, and adultery too frequently 
leads to murder. In European countries the rage 
of the injured husband is usually directed against 
the man who has dishonoured his bed and wrecked 
his home. In the earlier days he would kill him 
when he met him, or hire an assassin to murder 
him. Later on in social history he used to parade 
him at 7 a.m. and shoot him, or be shot himself. 
Now he tries to cast him for heavy damages in 
the Divorce Court. But the Asiatic looks upon 
his wife as the chief offender. If he be a Turk, 
he ties her up in a sack and sinks her in the sea ; 
if a Hindoo, he mutilates her by chopping off her 
nose, breasts, or arms, and if in a violent rage, 
hacks her to pieces with his cutlass. These 
violent assaults and murders are, unfortunately, 
very common in Demerara, and I can remember 
many cases which came under my immediate 

On one of the largest and best-managed sugar 
estates on the east bank of the Demerara Eiver 
there lived an East Indian immigrant named 
Seecharam. He was a well-to-do man, was the 
proud possessor of three cows ; buried under the 
floor of his hut were a numerous assortment of 


bangles, nose-jewels, earrings, and necklaces, such 
as charm the female mind. He had also an 
account in three figures of dollars in the Govern- 
ment Savings Bank. 

The wife he had brought with him from the 
old country was dead, and being still a year on 
the right side of fifty, he was anxious to procure 
a successor. It was not long before his choice 
fell upon Etwarrea, a pretty little Indian girl born 
in the colony of wealthy parents. She was eleven 
years of age, so there was nothing to delay the 
marriage if Seecharain could gain the consent of 
the father. So the expectant bridegroom gave a 
big dinner and invited Etwarrea's father ; and 
after dinner, when the stomach was full and the 
heart soft, and the blue smoke from their hubble- 
bubbles was curling round their heads, Seecharam 
opened his heart to the girl's father, and demanded 
his daughter in marriage. The wily old man 
appeared astonished, and said that he had already 
promised his daughter ; but when pressed to name 
the favoured one he prevaricated, and Seecharam 
saw he was only trying to gain time. However, 
the father kept on extolling his daughter's charms, 
and the number of her suitors, so that no arrange- 
ment could be arrived at that night. After some 
days' arguing and bargaining, Seecharam agreed 
to give the father a cow and a calf, fifty dollars in 
hard cash, and he was to make a will leaving his 
future wife, and any children she might have by 
him, all the remainder of his property. After 
these preliminaries had been satisfactorily arranged 


the girl was introduced to her future husband, and a 
short time afterwards their nuptials were celebrated 
with all the usual feasting and tom-toming. 

At first everything went smoothly ; the little 
bride settled down to her wifely duties. Her 
husband was generally kind to her, although he 
sometimes gave her a good whack with his stick 
when he came home from work, and found she 
had been making mud-pies in the road instead 
of cooking his rice for dinner. His first wife's 
mother, who lived with them, was a strict duenna, 
but she didn't ill-use the child, and altogether 
Btwarrea's lot was better than that of most East 
Indian wives. 

But when the young wife became fifteen or 
sixteen years of age, when her figure had attained 
its full development and a lovely little figure it 
was, too she began to lend a willing ear to the 
blandishments of several young men who were 
anxious to supplant the somewhat aged husband. 
Scandalous reports about Etwarrea began to be 
spread, and came to her husband's ears. He said 
nothing at first, but at last he accused her of 
infidelity, and as she did not give satisfactory 
answers, he gave her a severe beating, and locked 
her up in his room when he went out to his work. 
The old woman overwhelmed her with reproaches, 
and altogether poor little Etwarrea was in a bad 
way. Her affection for her husband was not 
increased by such treatment, and she consoled 
herself whenever she dared in the society of the 
most favoured of her lovers. 


At last her husband's patience was exhausted : 
he had become convinced that his wife was a 
faithless woman ; he became moody and silent, 
always brooding over his wrongs. He hardly ever 
spoke to his wife now, and people who knew the 
ways of his race watched for what he would do 

One morning Seecharam refused to go to work 
when the driver came round to turn out the shovel- 
gang. As he was usually a good and steady 
worker, the overseer left him alone. When the 
people had all gone to work, and the nigger yard 
was almost deserted, Seecharam took his cutlass, 
or machete, a heavy iron weapon with which 
canes are cut, and proceeded to sharpen it at the 
grindstone. Two women saw him doing this, 
muttering to himself all the while ; so, scenting 
mischief, they went to the range of coolie-rooms, 
in the gallery of which Etwarrea was sitting 
sewing, and warned her : " Etwarrea, look to thy- 
self ; Seecharam is sharpening his cutlass, his face 
is hard, and he is talking in his beard." But she 
only laughed and said, " Never mind what the old 
fool does ; let him sharpen his wits as well as his 
cutlass." So they left her, and went after their 
own business. In the mean while, Seecharam 
continued to sharpen his cutlass, feeling the edge 
with his fingers, until at length he was satisfied 
with its keenness ; then he marched off to his 
own room, and sat down not far from his wife. 
She looked up at him and said, " Seecharam, why 
are you not at work? The manager sahib will 


summons you before the magistrate sahib." 
But he said nothing. Etwarrea looked at him, 
and then at the gleaming cutlass, and a great fear 
entered into her soul. She had never seen him 
look like that before. Her conscience told her 
she had been very indiscreet, and she had heard 
of the vengeance which an Indian husband some- 
times wreaks on his faithless wife ; so she quietly 
rose up, with the intention of slipping away and 
joining some other men and women who were 
sitting in the gallery of an adjacent range. But 
ere she had made six strides from her place her 
husband was after her, and seized her by the right 
hand with his left. She shrieked aloud as the 
dreaded cutlass descended with two sharp chops 
upon her pretty rounded arm, severing it com- 
pletely from her body just below the elbow. 
Seecharam flung the bleeding limb into her face 
as she fled from him, shouting out, " Harlot ! 
adulteress ! take that ! " The unfortunate woman 
ran on, shrieking and bleeding, till she sank down 
on the ground, the blood pouring from her severed 
arteries. Seecharam, returning to his house, threw 
the bloody cutlass into the room, took his shovel, 
locked the door, and went out to his work aback 
of the estate. 

The injured woman was carried to the hospital 
on the plantation, where every care was taken of 
her. The district medical officer was sent for, and 
he found it was necessary to amputate the arm 
above the elbow. The poor girl had lost so much 
blood, and the shock to her system was so great, 


that it was evident she had not long to live. The 
magistrate of the district in which this happened 
was sent for to take her dying deposition. 

Seecharam had been arrested, and was con- 
fronted with his victim ; he seemed quite indif- 
ferent and callous, and showed no sign of emotion. 

Etwarrea died within two days of the assault 
upon her, and Seecharam was committed for trial 
at the next sessions of the Supreme Criminal 
Court to be held in Georgetown. The evidence 
was so clear against him at the trial that his 
conviction followed as a matter of course, and the 
date of his execution was fixed. 

The Governor in Council refused to interfere 
with his sentence, so, as Sheriff of the County, 
I received the Governor's warrant for the execution 
of the wretched man. I went to see him the day 
before he was executed, and told him that he 
would be hanged at 9 a.m. the next day, and 
asked him if I could do anything for him write 
to his relations in India, or see about his property 
in the colony. No ; he said he didn't want any- 
thing. I asked him if he would like to see a 
priest, or Brahmin. "No," he replied; "the 
chaplain of the prison was very kind to him, and 
showed him some pretty pictures." He seemed 
so calm and self-possessed that I asked him what 
he expected would happen to him when he died. 
He thought for a few moments, and then said that 
he believed he should become a mule. " For how 
long would you be a mule?" "Well, I don't 
know. For some years." " And what will become 


of you then ? " " Oh, then," he replied, " I shaU 
become a woman." I thought he must be joking, 
but he spoke quite seriously, and with an air of 

The next morning, punctually at 9 o'clock, I 
read the death-warrant to him. He was quite 
calm, walked quietly on to the fatal drop, and, as 
his legs were strapped and the cord and cap 
adjusted, not a tremor could be seen to pass over 
his frame ; life or death seemed to him a matter 
of perfect indifference. I gave the signal, the 
drop down fell with a loud clanging noise, and 
Seecharam had solved the great mystery, and 
would soon know whether his belief in the trans- 
migration of souls was founded on truth or 

The mild Hindoo is generally worthy of his 
epithet, but when his passions are roused he 
becomes violently excited, and is then a dangerous 
person. He is very superstitious, believes in 
charms, witches, the evil eye, the turned-down 
thumb, and all the other absurdities which have 
at different times enslaved all nations. 

A curious and what might have turned out a 
tragic effect of superstition came under my notice 
in 1880, when I was Sheriff of Essequibo. It 
happened at Plantation Aurora, at the southern 
part of the Aroabisce coast, on the occasion of the 
marriage of two East Indians. 

Gocool was celebrating the wedding of his 
eldest son with the daughter of a Hindoo shop- 
keeper from the island of Wakenaam, which lies 



in the estuary of the Essequibo River. The sweet- 
meats had all been prepared, the cakes made, the 
tom-toms had been tightened, and all the para- 
phernalia of a Hindoo wedding were in readiness. 
The bridegroom was a fine, handsome, well-grown 
boy of about thirteen years of age ; the bride was 
a lovely little woman of ten, with the tiniest feet 
and hands, brilliant black eyes, long lashes, and 
flowing black tresses, which for the first time were 
curled up behind her pretty little head. The 
festivities would last during the inside of a week. 
On Monday the bride's procession came in boats 
from Wakenaam, and were met by the bride- 
groom's friends firing guns, discharging crackers, 
and beating tom-toms, and was conveyed to the 
house prepared for her. The night was devoted 
to feasting, but the tired children who were to 
be married the next day were soon fast asleep. 

The morning of the wedding-day was fine and 
hot; before the sun rose the noisy tom-toms 
informed the world of what was astir. The bride- 
groom sprang from his charpoy, and rushed out 
into the warm air, bathing his nude body in the 
beams of the rising sun. As luck would have it, 
an old she-goat, with its kid, had wandered into 
his father's compound, and was nibbling at the 
vegetables and flowers growing therein, so young 
Eamlall, as the boy was called, amused himself by 
hunting the beasts out of the place. He was 
enjoying this sport, and had pitched a piece of 
firewood and struck the kid on the leg, causing 
it to limp grievously, when an old crone, the 


owner of the goats, came upon the scene, and, 
with frightful objurgations, proceeded to rescue 
her property. When she saw the kid was lame 
she cursed Kamlall in a way peculiar to her race, 
which is most prolific in curses. She hoped his 
marriage would be unhappy and his bed unfruit- 
ful ; if he had children, they would have seven 

fathers ; that his wife would be a wh , etc. 

Commend me to an East Indian woman for a foul 
tongue ! The neighbours ran out and rebuked the 
woman, who departed, muttering curses as she 

The boy was much excited by chasing the 
goats and by the curses he had received, and pro- 
ceeded, as many boys will, to relieve his feelings 
by further exercise. With some other boys he 
ran about racing and shouting, jumping and play- 
ing all kinds of fantastic tricks, whilst the elders 
looked on, thinking how he had best enjoy himself 
now, so soon to be undergoing the responsibilities 
of the married state. Whether it was the unusual 
excitement or the extra exertion which caused it 
cannot now be said perhaps both causes combined 
but of a sudden the boy bridegroom fell down flat 
on his face, and either died at once, or within a 
few minutes after his fall. 

It would be impossible to depict the conster- 
nation and rage which filled the hearts of the boy's 
relations and friends when they became aware of 
what had happened. They bore the child into his 
father's house, and laid him on the bed ; they 
chafed his hands, poured cold water on his face ; 


called on God with loud cries and gesticulations ; 
but still as death lay the boy in fact, he was quite 
dead. But they could not believe it : he must be 
bewitched ; and then the curses of the old woman 
recurred to their minds, and some cried out, " He 
is possessed of an evil spirit ; that foul witch hath 
bewitched him ! " and cries of anger burst from the 
crowd, which had collected as news of the boy's 
death got bruited abroad. " Bring the old hag 
here, and make her fetch him back to life." A 
dozen men rushed off to the old woman's hut, and, 
despite her cries and struggles, dragged her by her 
arms and hair to the room where the boy lay 
on his back, unclothed except for the string of 
beads round his neck, and the sacred thread round 
his loins. In a moment the infuriated relatives 
had stripped the wretched old woman stark naked, 
and laid her face downwards on the top of the boy, 
and then proceeded to lash her over the back, 
buttocks, and legs with canes, rods, and leathern 
straps, calling upon her to bring the child back 
to life again, and remove the curse she had laid 
upon him. Needless to say, the boy gave no sign 
of life. The woman screamed at the top of her 
voice, shrieking for mercy, but her tormentors 
were inexorable : the flogging went on till the 
poor woman's voice grew weaker and weaker, and 
soon there would have been another corpse on the 
top of the first. 

But succour was at hand ; one of the overseers 
of the estate, hearing the shrieks, came to see what 
was being done, and seeing the infuriated mob 


beating the old woman to death, he called a dozen 
stout negroes, and conveyed the poor creature to 
the police-station, more dead than alive, and locked 
her up there for safety. Baulked of their prey, the 
enraged Hindoos rushed out and spread abroad 
their tale of woe and bereavement. Sympathy 
with their wrongs was soon aroused in the breasts 
of their countrymen, and about a hundred coolies, 
armed with hackia-sticks, marched to the police- 
station, and demanded that the woman should be 
given up. 

The manager of the estate became alarmed, 
and telegraphed to me to come up, as he expected 
there would be a riot, and the police-station de- 
stroyed. At the same time the Sergeant of Police 
in charge of Aurora station telegraphed to head- 
quarters for reinforcements. A few minutes after 
the receipt of the telegram I was on my way to 
Aurora, leaving orders for twenty policemen, armed 
with Enfield rifles, to be despatched at once. When 
I arrived at Aurora, I found a great mob of coolies 
round the police-station, brandishing sticks and 
shouting out threats and curses. I called to one 
or two of the leaders whom I knew, and asked 
them what was the matter. They told me that 
the woman in the lock-up had bewitched the boy, 
who was lying in a trance, and that if she did not 
bring him back to life, they would beat her to 
death. " But," I said, " are you sure the boy is 
alive ? Perhaps he is dead." No, they were sure 
he was not dead, he was only bewitched. I went 
on to the house where the boy was, forcing my 


way in with great difficulty, amongst the wailing 
women and cursing men. " Well," I said, " if 
he is not dead, let us take him to the hospital 
at once for the doctor sahib to see him ; perhaps 
he will bring him back to life." To this they 
agreed, and, hoisting up the cot on their shoulders, 
six of the men carried him off to the hospital, 
followed by a mob of about two hundred men, 
women, and children. 

I had already sent for the medical officer 
belonging to the district, who arrived soon after 
I got to the hospital. The boy was carried into 
the mortuary. I drove all the people out, except 
about six of the principal men, and these I ordered 
to leave their heavy hackia-sticks outside. I then 
locked the door, and took out the key. The doctor 
felt the boy's pulse, sounded his heart, and then 
said to me in a low voice, "He is quite dead." 
So I said to the men, " The doctor sahib says he 
is dead, and nothing can bring him back to life. 
Don't you believe him ?" Some said " Yes," others 
said "No." So I said to the doctor, "A post-mortem 
examination must be made for the inquest, which 
I shall hold over the body, so you may as well 
make it at once." Calling for the dispenser of the 
hospital to bring his implements down, the doctor 
took out his knives, and opened the boy straight 
up from his groin to his throat, took out the 
organs and examined them, found the cause of 
death, which was the rupture of a blood-vessel in 
or near the heart, which he showed to the men, 
who were watching his proceedings with disgusted 

i ~ < 

I h. l i 


faces. " Are you satisfied, doctor ? " said I. 
" Quite," replied he. " There is no doubt death 
was caused by the rupture of this blood-vessel, 
caused by over-excitement and over-exertion, and 
his death must have been almost instantaneous." 
The organs were replaced, and the body stitched 
up, but still the men said nothing. When this 
was done, I turned to them and exclaimed, " Well, 
is the boy dead now? " One of them, who could 
speak a little English, replied grimly, " Yes, sahib, 
the doctor sahib kill him good this time." " So 
the old woman cannot bring him to life now ? " 
This they admitted. "Then," I said, "you had 
better leave her alone." To this they made no 
reply, so I unlocked the door, and we all sallied 
out to meet the crowd outside, who had been 
anxiously awaiting the result of our conference. 
It was some days before the excitement subsided 
sufficiently for me to allow the wretched old woman 
to be liberated; and then she was removed to 
the hospital, as the injuries she had received had 
been a great shock to her system. The pretty 
little bride, widowed before ever she was a wife, 
returned with her friends to Wakenaam, and by 
degrees the men at Aurora returned to work, laid 
down their sticks and took up their shovels, but 
to this day I believe most of them maintain that 
the doctor killed the boy by my orders. 



Perjury: in the Divorce Court; generally; amongst Hindoos Family 
ties Caste Case of Rookminia Perjury a duty Her imprisonment 
Release Gratitude Various races and creeds in British Guiana 
Variety of judicial oaths Curious Chinese oaths Hindoo belief 
Results of education Names of children, Hindoo, Congo Bindharry 
and his pretty daughters A disappointed lover Large amount of 
savings made by coolies Mootee Champagne-drinking Deposit in 
the Bengal Bank Hardships of coolies returning to India Extortion 
by priests and relatives Marriage contracts Consideration money 
Baboo English Marriages between children Complications 
Fatalism Oriental imagery " Found dead " Mortuary. 

PERHAPS there is no crime more common than 
perjury. Like smuggling, it is looked upon by 
many otherwise law-abiding citizens as a venial 
offence ; and, as long as it is committed in a good 
cause, is regarded not only with indifference, but 
even with approbation. The judges who have 
presided in the divorce courts have all commented 
at different times on the prevalence of perjury in 
the cases tried before them, and seem even to 
have accepted the fact that it is useless to make 
any attempt to remedy the evil. People of high 
position and stainless character will deliberately 
lie in the witness-box to shield a woman's 
character; and we cannot but sympathize with 
the man in a well-known novel who deliberately 


committed perjury to save his innocent friend from 
a shameful death. All of us who have presided 
at trials, whether criminal or civil, are painfully 
aware how unreliable most witnesses are, and 
how they allow their wishes and predilections to 
outweigh their love of truth. 

If such be the state of morals amongst educated 
Christian people, it cannot be surprising that 
amongst nations with other morals and diverse 
religions speaking the truth on all occasions is not 
considered incumbent or praiseworthy. Amongst 
the Hindoos, truthfulness is the exception, not the 
rule. If you ask a Hindoo of inferior position to 
your own a question, he answers, not according 
to the facts of the case, but as he believes you 
wish him to answer ; so he generally equivocates, 
seldom answering directly, in the hope of gleaning 
from your words and manner in what way you 
wish him to reply. Witnesses for a lawsuit can 
be bought in any number, and are instructed as 
to what they are to say at the trial with con- 
siderable carefulness, and with an eye to cross- 
examination which is truly remarkable. I have 
often found that the only way to arrive at the 
truth in a case between two East Indians, each 
of whom called numerous witnesses, was to order 
all witnesses out of court, and then to examine 
each individually upon some parts of the case 
which were not directly bearing upon the points 
at issue, but which often revealed the fact that 
the witnesses could not possibly have been at the 
place where they swore they had been. For 


instance, if it were a question as to the payment 
of certain money, all the witnesses would be 
perfectly prepared, under cross-examination, to 
say when and where the money was paid, how 
many persons were present at the time, who they 
were, in whose house, the exact time by the 
clock, who wrote and who signed the receipt, 
and all the other minutiae of the transaction; but 
by asking questions for which they have not been 
prepared, it may often be discovered that it was 
impossible for the witnesses to have seen all the 
transactions which they so glibly described. 

It is also part of the family religion of the 
Hindoo that all members of a family should hold 
together, and should back each other up in all 
matters before the courts. This especially holds 
good with regard to the women of the family, who 
are always held in subjection, and whose sole 
duty is to obey their husbands, brothers, fathers, 
fathers-in-law, and mothers-in-law, and to have no 
opinion of their own in anything. 

A remarkable instance came to my knowledge 
in Essequibo ; not that I think the circumstances 
are unusual, but, having been the cause of both 
a civil and criminal trial, it came into greater 
prominence than other similar cases which had 
been either undiscovered or unnoticed. An East 
Indian, who was possessed of considerable property 
in houses and cattle, died on an estate on the 
Aroabisce coast. He had several children, and, 
in anticipation of his approaching decease, he 
gave instructions to the village lawyer for a will 


to be drawn up; but before his wishes could be 
carried out the old man died. Having died 
without a will, his property would come under 
the jurisdiction of the Administrator-General, who 
would take possession of the property, sell it, and 
divide the proceeds among the heirs-at-law. To 
avoid this, the eldest son, who lived with his 
father, obtained the aid of a black man in the 
neighbourhood who could read and write, and 
had a document drawn up, purporting to be the 
last will and testament of his deceased father, in 
which the bulk of the property was left to himself ; 
he forged his father's signature, dated the paper 
on the day before his father's death, and obtained 
witnesses who signed the will, amongst others 
his sister Eookminia, who lived in the house with 
her father and brother. However, the forgery 
was so clumsily done, the document at once 
exciting suspicion, that probate was refused ; the 
son of the deceased Hindoo was arrested, and, 
after a full investigation, was committed by me 
for trial at the Criminal Sessions on a charge of 

At the trial he was ably defended by a coloured 
barrister from Georgetown, who called witnesses in 
his defence, amongst others his sister Kookminia. 
In her evidence Eookminia swore positively that 
her old father made his mark to the will before 
he died ; that it was read over to him, and that 
he was aware of its contents ; and that the disposal 
of the property by the will was what he had always 
intended, and had spoken about it in her presence 


before lie died. Despite these positive statements 
of Rookminia and other witnesses, the man was 
found guilty, and the judge ordered that Rook- 
minia should be arrested, and charged with wilful 
and corrupt perjury. I conducted the preliminary 
examination, and the evidence presenting a strong 
primd facie case against the young woman, who 
was only eighteen or twenty years of age, married, 
with two little children, one a baby in arms, she 
was committed for trial, being admitted to bail 
in the mean while. 

Rookminia was tried in due course, found 
guilty, and the judge, commenting upon the serious 
nature of the crime, and its frequency amongst her 
countrymen and countrywomen, sentenced her to 
a long term of imprisonment. 

As sheriff of the county, I visited the gaol 
weekly, and I was always saddened by the sight of 
this unfortunate young woman with her baby, for 
the child was too young to be deprived of its 
mother's care and sustenance. I was aware that 
by her own code of morals, if she had refused to 
give evidence on behalf of her father or her brother 
in their peril she would have been liable to be 
stoned to death by their infuriated relatives. A 
falsehood told in court on behalf of her brother 
was a venial offence compared to the fearful shame 
which would have been hers if she had failed him 
in his hour of need. Family affection, the obliga- 
tions of caste, of tribal duty, of custom and 
religion, were all drawing her by cords which were 
too strong for her to break, and no idea of the 


criminality or sinfulness of her action ever entered 
her head. Her duty seemed clear before her, and 
she followed it according to her knowledge of what 
was right and wrong. 

Acting under this belief, I wrote to the Gover- 
nor, and called his attention to the case of 
Kookminia, pointing out the peculiar circum- 
stances of her case. After some correspondence 
His Excellency agreed to exercise his prerogative 
of mercy, although, he said, I did not seem to 
realize the very serious nature of the offence which 
Bookminia had committed. An order for her re- 
lease was shortly afterwards forwarded to me, which 
I immediately sent over to the gaol, and the poor 
woman was accordingly discharged. 

A few days afterwards, as I was sitting in the 
gallery of my house, smoking, I saw Eookminia, 
with some of her family, making for the door. 
They came up into the gallery, and, as I rose up to 
receive them, Kookminia threw herself flat upon 
the floor, and, embracing my feet, exclaimed in 
her broken English, " Sahib, you my god ! you 
my god!" It was with great difficulty that I 
extricated myself without hurting the poor woman, 
who was kissing my boots ; but at last I persuaded 
her to rise, when I took the opportunity for ex- 
plaining to her and to her relations the serious 
consequences which would ensue if they persisted 
in breaking the laws of their adopted country. 

With such a strange and heterogeneous popu- 
lation as exists in British Guiana, it is somewhat 
difficult to discriminate between their different 


religious faiths, and, in judicial matters, to find a 
means for administering an oath in a way which 
will be binding upon the consciences of the 
witnesses. Mohammedan witnesses are sworn 
on the Koran; but Hindoos were in my time 
sworn on the Bible an unknown book to them, 
and of no greater sanctity than Johnson's Dic- 
tionary or Bradshaw's Eailway Guide. Once a 
coolie witness, being asked if he was not telling 
lies, protested his truthfulness, and said, pointing 
to the Bible in front of him on the rail of the 
witness-box, " Look, God atop ; any other kind of 
Bible gie um, me kiss um same like me talk um." 

Once, in trying a case between some Chinamen, 
both parties asked to be allowed to be sworn 
according to their native customs. To this I 
agreed, but bargained they must produce their 
own crockery, as Government made no allowance 
for such purposes; for I knew that their oaths 
were always taken with breakage of saucers. 
When the case was heard, each witness, as he 
mounted the box, held in his hand a china saucer, 
which, after some muttered objurgation, he dashed 
to the ground in front of the bench. As far as I 
could understand from the interpreter, each 
witness expressed a hope that he might be dashed 
to pieces like that saucer if he did not speak the 
truth. When the case was over the whole space 
round the bench was covered with broken crockery. 

The most sacred oaths with the Hindoos are 
by the sacred bull, by holy Gunga, and by their 
children's heads. In one case of disputed debt, 


where the defendant was a stout Hindoo woman, 
covered with jewelry, and evidently well endowed 
with this world's goods, the plaintiff said he 
would give up the case if the defendant would 
place her hands on her children's heads and swear 
by the sacred lota and the waters of holy G-unga 
that she did not owe the money. To this the 
defendant vehemently objected, saying that she 
would swear by the book, seizing the Bible, and 
kissing it violently ; and, as she absolutely refused 
to swear by an oath which the court considered 
to be binding on her conscience, judgment went 
against her. 

I fear that the East Indians who are taught to 
read and write English in the colonial schools turn 
their acquired knowledge to evil purposes in many 
cases. A Hindoo was one day detected forging 
an order on a Portuguese provision-shop for goods, 
and was remonstrated with by his pastor and 
master. He replied plaintively, " Boss, honest 
man no good this country." Another coolie 
entered a shop, ate and drank until he was full, 
and when he was asked for his money he laughed 
at the shopkeeper, and remarked, "Me eat um 
plenty, me drink um plenty, me belly full, no 
money hav' um, gaol go um, don't care a dam." 
By which it may seem that the coolie's education 
in all the elements of civilization has been much 
advanced since his introduction into the colony. 

It is curious that nations so much unlike 
as the Congo and the Hindoo should have the 
same custom of naming their children after the 


day on which they were born, and yet it is 
common to find children so named amongst both 


Day. Male. Female. 

Sunday Quashie Quashba. 

Monday Quio Adjuba. 

Tuesday Quacco Bamber. 

Wednesday Quamna Aheoba. 

Thursday Yow Yahba. 

Friday Quoffie Afibba. 

Saturday Quamina Amimba. 


Day. Male. Female. 

Sunday (Etwar) Etwarroo Etwarria. 

Monday (Soomar) Soomaroo Soomaria. 

Tuesday (Mongar) Mungroo Mungree. 

Wednesday (Boodh) Boodhoo Boodhia. 

Thursday (Beeky) Beekoo Beekhia. 

Friday (Sookh) Sookhoo Sookhia. 

Saturday (Sannicher) Sannicheroo Sannicherry. 

Quashie, being the first name in the list of 
Congo names, has given his name to the whole 
negro race, who are known generally as Quashie. 
Similarly, so many East Indian names end in 
sawmy or sammy, such as Ram-sawmy, Mootoo- 
sammy, that fche Creoles call all the coolies 
Sammy. Why all Chinamen are called Johnny I 
don't know. Portuguese are all called Manny 
because Manuel is a very common name amongst 
that race. With regard to calling children after 
the day of their birth, my readers will recollect 
that Robinson Crusoe called his black man Friday 
after the day of his capture. 

At Plantation Richmond in Essequibo there 


lived an East Indian immigrant named Bind- 
harry, who was wealthy ; he had houses and cows, 
and, above all, three pretty little daughters, who 
were sought in marriage by all the eligible young 
men in the neighbourhood. The way I made the 
acquaintance of Bindharry and his pretty daughters 
was as follows: One day, when I was holding 
court at Anna Kegina, a handsome young Creole 
coolie named Eamdhin asked permission to speak 
to me, and when allowed to enter my retiring- 
room, sat down at my feet and poured out his 
woes. He wanted to marry one of Bindharry's 
daughters, Sunnicherry, so he had been making 
up to the old man for some time. " Sahib, " he 
said, " me give em cow, me give em money, me 
give em dinner two, three dinner and he promise 
me de gal, but now he go for give em another 
man." I sympathized with him, but hinted that 
it was a delicate matter with which to interfere, 
and suggested that Bindharry had three daughters : 
perhaps one of the others would be available. No, 
he wanted Sunnicherry ; she was the eldest, and 
he need not wait long for her. But if he could not 
get her, how was he to get his cow, money, and 
dinners back again ? I told him I feared his 
dinners had gone past recall, but I promised to see 
what I could do about the cow and money. 

I sent for the old man, and spoke to him about 
the matter. At first, of course, he swore that he 
had never encouraged Eamdhin, never had any- 
thing from him, neither cows, money, nor dinners. 
But when some of the bystanders began to murmur 


and I pressed him, lie reluctantly admitted that 
he had received fifty dollars and a cow from Eam- 
dhin. I told him he must keep to his agreement 
to give his daughter Sunnicherry as wife to Eam- 
dhin, or return the cow and the money. But 
Eamdhin, although he got his cow and his money 
back again, was not consoled ; he seemed to have 
set his heart upon the girl, and for several weeks 
used to come and reiterate his sorrows, until I 
wearied of him, and told the police to turn him 
out of the compound. 

By discreet management old Bindharry dis- 
posed of all his daughters at excellent prices, and 
a few years afterwards he sold up all his effects 
and went back to India, carrying with him more 
than 1000 in cash, besides a quantity of jewelry. 

When I was in India as Government Emigra- 
tion Agent, a ship with returning coolies was con- 
signed to me. On board was a man named Mootee, 
whom I remembered as a shopkeeper on the west 
coast of Demerara. As soon as he arrived at the 
depot at Garden Eeach he lodged a complaint 
against the captain of the ship, whom he accused 
of drinking his champagne. The complaint was 
forwarded to Dr. Grant, at that time Protector of 
Emigrants in Calcutta, and he came to my office 
to make an investigation into the matter. At first 
blush it seemed preposterous ; as Dr. Grant said, 
" How can a coolie, on board a coolie ship, having 
a free passage to India, have champagne at all ? ' 
But when the captain of the ship was called up, 
he informed us that, just before the ship left the 


Demerara Eiver, Mootee came on board in a shore- 
boat, rather drunk, and bringing with him two 
cases of champagne and a case of Eno's fruit salt. 
After they had been a couple of days at sea, Mootee 
came to the captain and surgeon-superintendent, 
and asked them to join him in a glass of cham- 
pagne. They consented ; a bottle was opened 
and discussed by the three of them. The next 
day Mootee came to the captain and told him that 
he was not a common coolie, and begged that he 
might be allowed to sleep in the saloon, and not 
in the hold with the other coolies. This the 
captain refused, and told him that as he had a free 
passage he must fare as the others. Mootee again 
and again begged the captain to let him use the 
saloon, and offered him more champagne, both of 
which were refused. So the man got angry, and 
as soon as the ship arrived at Calcutta he made 
this complaint against the skipper. On investi- 
gation we found there was no truth in the accusa- 
tion, so we rated Mr. Mootee well, and told him to 
be gone. 

In paying the coolies the amount of savings 
entered against the name of each, I found that 
Mootee had the largest amount to his credit, viz. 
,3000. After the baboos had paid him off by a 
cheque on the Bank of Bengal, he asked to see 
me, and then said, with many salaams, " Sahib, 
my people too much tief ; suppose money take em, 
people rob em. Sahib, me give you me money for 
keep em, and when me come back you give em." 
" No, you villain,' 7 I replied, "for the first thing 


you would do when you came back would be to 
charge me with stealing 1000 of your money." 
He begged me hard to keep his money for him, 
but I steadfastly refused. However, I told him I 
would take him to the bank, and deposit his money 
safely for him ; so I put him up beside my coach- 
man, and drove him to the Bank of Bengal. I 
went in, Mootee following, and asked for Mr, Cruick- 
shank, the deputy manager. That polite gentle- 
man quickly arrived, and asked me what he could 
do for me. I told him that this man pointing 
to Mootee wanted to deposit some money in the 
bank for six months. Mr. Cruickshank, looking 
at him, said, " We should be glad to oblige you, 
Mr. Kirke, but we don't take small deposits." 
Certainly Mootee did not look like a capitalist, with 
his bare legs and feet, hairy and dusty, a dirty 
white turban on his head, and clothed in an old 
grimy red militia coat and filthy dhootie. I assured 
the deputy manager that it was not a very small 
deposit, but <3000 sterling. " What ! this man has 
3000 ?" " Certainly ;" and I showed him the 
draft on their own bank for that amount, signed by 
myself. This satisfied him ; the deposit note was 
quickly made out, and the business soon despatched. 
Immigrants to British Guiana from India make 
large sums of money, but when they return to 
India with their savings they are generally robbed 
by their relations. As Mootee said, " My people 
too much tief." The man has lost caste by cross- 
ing the kola pani, so the priests sweat him of a 
large sum of money before they will allow him to 


recover his caste. Then the whole of his kindred, 
tribe, and village community, hearing of his return 
with, to them, a fabulous sum of money, come 
down upon him like locusts, and, to use an expres- 
sive Eastern phrase, "eat him up." I remember 
one family, who returned to India one Christmas- 
tide with a considerable sum of money about 
800 or 900, enough to keep them in luxury in 
India for the rest of their lives came back to the 
depot in a few months, to re-engage and return 
to British Guiana as indentured immigrants. I 
asked them how it was, and they told me that the 
priests and their relations had robbed them of all 
their money, so they wanted to go back to the 
colony and earn some more. " Too much bad 
man this country," was their description of their 
native land. 

As I have said before, the East Indian girls 
are disposed of in marriage by their father, with- 
out much consideration for their personal feelings. 
Such things are not unknown in fashionable society 
in England, where there is a marriage market, 
which, though not as open as that of Babylon in 
old times, has much less excuse. During my 
magisterial experiences I came across a curious 
marriage contract, which was produced in evidence. 
It ran as follows : 

" Plantation Brothers, British Guiana County 
of Berbice. Contract of marriage entered into on 
Wednesday 13th February, year of our Lord 1884, 
between Chootwa, No. 61, ex Loodiana 1860 
residing at Plantation Brothers, the father of the 


bridegroom named Mahadoorlall, and Jumnee also 
a free Coolie woman of the same plantation, she is 
the Mother of the bride named Eamkalya a Coolie 
girl daughter of Jumnee. They are bind by 
promise themselves each other by faithful confi- 
dence according by this contract and Mahadoorlall 
bridegroom and Kamkalya bride. They both 
agreed for married each other and they both 
signed before presence of three witnesses whereof 
herein-undermentioned their names. Firstly the 
Coolie woman Jumnee acknowledged and received 
$20 and bind by promise for Chootwa the father 
of the bridegroom. If my daughter released any 
time to husband Mohadoorlall after married, she 
will pay back the $20 and also the whole expense 
of the marriage, and if Kamkalya keep another 
husband the same husband will pay the whole 
amount of this married. This is legal married 
among them, which they did alway. Their 
relations in India in the age of puberty propose 
marriage, on Saturday 16th February 1884 both 
the bridegroom and the bride did married, and 
every acquainted of this married at Pin 
Brothers, Berbice, Colony of British Guiana. 
Signed before three witnesses whereof hereinto 
mentioned their names on that time of epoch as 
hereafter. This marriage four wish and in 
eriedint $89. Eighty -nine dollars this is the 
whole amount expense. Total amount $89. " 

A magistrate in charge of the East Coast district 
received the following letter, which discloses a 
somewhat singular state of society : 



SIR, The driver of Plantation Vryheid's Lust 
by name of Salick, sold his wife to me for $97. 
After receiving this, he came two week after and 
take her back. I lost the amount. I beg whether 
I must bring this case before you or the Supreme. 
"I am, Sir, Your obedient servant, 

" KANHOYE his X mark." 

The Supreme referred to is not, I presume, the 
Deity, but the Supreme Court of the Colony. 

The immortal Baboo is not unknown in the 
colony. Witness the following letter which I 
received relating to a vacancy in the staff of 
interpreters in my court : 

" SIE, The humble petitioner has been and 
will solicitation that I heard the Hindustani 
interpreter of Sheriffs interpreter he self left the 
business, and willing to go to his native country in 
the second ship, and if Perfector order to the 
Petitioner for in his compensation in the same 
business, obcouers I will make arrangements in 
the Court to look after consigment of Ordinal 
manner for that Statu quo. Therefore I oblige to 
bring in my consideration or understanding for 
the place. And this is my information brought to 
your Highness for the business, and will divulged, 
and humbly represents to consent the Petitioner 
in the same place." 

Indian girls are married at a very early age, 
when still children ; so efforts have been made in 


India to raise the age at which marriage can be 
legally consummated. Much indignation has been 
expressed by European writers on the subject, who 
seem to have forgotten that not long ago it was 
a common practice amongst the highest classes 
in England to promote the marriages of their 
children afc a very early age, especially when 
careful parents wished to secure some young 
lady with a large dowry. Turning over a volume 
published by the Historical MSS. Commission, I 
came across the diary of the Earl of Annesley in 
the reign of Charles II., in which this entry 
occurs : " May 20th, 1672. This morning about 
10 of the clock at Lambeth the Archbishop of. 
Canterbury married my grandson John Power not 
eight years old to Mistress Katherine Fitz- Gerald 
his cousin german about thirteen years old. I gave 
her in the Chapel there and they answered as well 
as those of greater age. The wedding dinner and 
supper I gave them, and the rest of the day, and 
till 12 at night was spent in dancing, etc., and they 
lay in my house." 

The Duke of Grafton, son of Charles II., when 
a mere boy was married to a pretty girl, daughter 
of Lord Arlington, and only five years old ; Francis 
II. was only fourteen when he married Mary of 
Scotland, who was a few months older ; and 
numerous examples could be quoted both from 
French and English history. 

Owing to the early marriages of young East 
Indian girls, some curious complications have 
arisen. I remember a case in the Supreme 


Criminal Court in Georgetown, where an East 
Indian was tried for an indecent assault upon 
his own wife, who was a girl under the age of 
consent. The jury, under the judge's direction, 
convicted the man, but the point of law whether 
he could be convicted of such an offence against 
his own wife was reserved for the Court of Crown 
Cases, which reversed the decision. 

The Hindoo is more or less a fatalist ; what is, 
must be, and it is no use railing against fate. A 
coolie who was sick was asked if he did not wish 
to go to hospital, as the doctor sahib might give 
him something that would cure his disease, and he 
replied, " Yes, me want go 'ospital ; suppose me get 
better God 'elp um, suppose me go dead me don't 
care a dam." 

The Indian immigrant is an adept in dramatic 
display, and his imagination runs riot when depict- 
ing his wrongs and endeavouring to enlist your 
sympathy. A Hindoo labourer from Plantation 
Peter's Hall once rushed into my presence, almost 
naked, covered with black stinking mud, and 
bleeding from a wound on his head. He threw 
himself at my feet and implored me to defend him 
from his brutal master, who had severely beaten 
him and thrown him into a muddy trench, from 
which he had with difficulty escaped. After a 
strict and prolonged inquiry, I discovered that the 
man had become infuriated because he was not 
allowed to work in the buildings where sugar was 
being made, but was ordered by the driver to go 
into the cane-fields to cut canes ; so he chopped 


himself about the head with his cutlass, threw 
himself into a filthy draining trench, and then ran 
off to enlist the sympathies of the magistrate 
against the inhuman planter. 

On another occasion a fearful noise brought 
me out of my house, when I beheld three Hindoo 
women prostrate on the ground, howling and 
tearing their hair, a boy about eleven or twelve 
years old standing in their midst. When I asked 
them what was the matter, they pointed to the 
boy's face, chest, and babba, which were all 
smeared with fresh blood ; and one of them pro- 
duced a medicine-bottle full of bloody-coloured 
fluid, which she said was the boy's blood, carefully 
collected from his wounds, which had been caused 
by a brutal driver on the estate, I examined the 
boy, and found that he had a small scalp wound 
about half an inch long, which had bled a little. 
The women had evidently smeared the blood over 
his face, body, and clothes ; and the bottle con- 
tained only water, in which apparently they had 
washed their blood-stained fingers. 

A large number of coolies, as they are called, 
collect in Georgetown, where they gain a pre- 
carious livelihood by working as porters. They 
are miserable scarecrows, wear little or no clothes, 
sleep under bridges or verandas, in sawpits and 
boatsheds, crowd the hospitals and almshouses, 
and frequently their dead bodies are found in the 

At one time there was no mortuary in George- 
town, so there was some difficulty in disposing of 


these corpses. One night I was sitting down to 
dinner with my wife about 7.15, when I was told 
that a policeman wanted to see me. I went out 
and asked, "What is it?" "Please, sir/' said 
the Hack policeman, " we have found this man 
dead on the road" pointing to a dirty old dead 
coolie on a stretcher " and we have brought him 
to you." " What on earth did you bring him 
here for ? Take him away." " Please, sir, where 
are we to take him to?" "Take him to the 
Central Police-station." "We have taken him 
there, sir, but the Inspector-General drove us out, 
and told us to bring him to you." "Then take 
him to the Colonial Hospital." After some demur 
the body was lifted up, and the party moved off. 
Half an hour afterwards the butler came in. 
" Please, sir, they have brought the body back 
again." I rushed out in a rage. " What do you 
mean by bringing it back here ? " " Please, sir, 
they said at the hospital that they only took in 
live people, not dead 'uns." " Take him away ! " 
I cried out. " Where shall we take him to ? " 
" Take him to the devil ! " " Yes, sir." And at 
last they went away with the corpse; but not know- 
ing where to put it, they left it on a butcher's stall 
in the Cummingsburgh Market, in which appro- 
priate spot I opened an inquest the next morning. 
I represented the whole matter to the Govern- 
ment, who afterwards provided a place where dead 
bodies could be deposited. More recently a suit- 
able mortuary has been provided at Le Eepentir 



Negro population Their manners and habits Slavery The African at 
home Amelioration of slavery in the colony Fine men -Nocturnal 
habits Servants in British Guiana Stealing or taking Oratory 
and letter- writing A little knowledge is a dangerous thing Amusing 
witnesses Curious use of words Intoxication, definition of What 
is heaven ? Miscegenation Half-and-half illegitimacy Mulattoes 
Division of races Illegitimate births Marriage garments " Love, 
honour, and obey" An uncertain husband Wifely obedience 
Dangers of marriage A provident husband Consolation for widows 
High-sounding titles Judas Iscariot The goddess of chaste 
What is a bachelor ? Au revoir Want of midwives ; their ignorance 
and barbarity. 

THE black population of British Guiana are de- 
scended from the old slaves, who were brought 
from Africa to work on the cotton and sugar 
estates in the West Indies. The negro is one of 
the few aboriginal races which can live side by 
side with the white man and hold his own ; in 
fact, in countries which suit his constitution and 
habits, he is gradually ousting the white element. 
The morals and habits of the working- classes in 
the colony are not altogether of the best. It is 
curious to note what a superior class of people the 
old slaves are to their descendants. You can 
always tell the difference at once. The old slaves 
are so much cleaner both in their persons and 


in their houses; their manners are courtly and 
pleasing, and their voices soft and low. They 
have all told me that they were better off in 
slavery time than they were after its abolition. 
I think that much useless sympathy has been 
expended upon the poor black slave. The lot of 
a slave upon a sugar plantation was not an un- 
happy one ; the Legrees were few and far between, 
and the majority of the masters were kind, humane 
men. It is the fashion to talk as if these Africans 
had been a free peasantry captured by brutal 
slavers, and enslaved by them. But, as a matter 
of fact, the poor negro only exchanged one slavery 
for another less cruel and revolting. 

All the stories that Mrs. Beecher-Stowe could 
collect of the cruelties practised on English sugar 
estates for two hundred years would be as nothing 
to the abominable tortures, bloodshed, and in- 
human cruelties practised in the kingdoms of 
Dahomey and Ashanti in a single month. If there 
be any foundation of fact in Eider Haggard's book 
" Nada, the Lily," the life of an African on a 
plantation must have been a heaven on earth 
compared to life in such a land of despotism and 
fetichism. Human life in Africa was a thing of 
nought. To gratify his lust of blood, or to pro- 
pitiate some infernal deity, a king of Dahomey or 
chief of Benin would slaughter in cold blood 
hundreds of men and women : and we all know what 
our soldiers discovered when Ashanti and Benin 
were last captured. The slaves in Demerara were 
valuable chattels, to be well fed and well housed, 


to be nursed when sick, and to be taken care of 
in old age. The slaves could not have been badly 
used in one respect, for we find that three years 
after emancipation 101 ex-slaves bought Planta- 
tion Friendship, on the east coast of Demerara, 
from Dr. Martin for $90,000 cash ; and between 
1839 and 1854 more than $250,000 were invested 
in land in that one district by the emancipated 

A curious fact, not generally known, is that 
some of the slaves themselves owned slaves, and 
were enriched by their labour. The negro was 
lustful of power and authority over others; and 
when he obtained it, exercised it with a harshness 
and severity which often contrasted unfavourably 
with the treatment which he himself received 
from his white master. 

The negroes, both men and women, are a fine 
race. They have splendid figures, and in size 
they are far above the average of other races. 
There is less difference between the sexes than in 
any other race. The women are as big and power- 
ful as the men; they are quite as independent, 
and more ready for a fight. You rarely see two 
black men fighting, but it is a common sight to 
see two stalwart black women mauling each other. 
The carriage and walk of the black women is far 
superior to that of most Europeans. This partly 
arises from their habit of carrying everything on 
their heads, but it is also attributable to their 
perfectly proportioned figures. Unfortunately, of 
late years the women have acquired the habit of 


employing coolies to carry their baskets for them, 
so they will soon lose their splendid carriage. 
Accustomed to nudity for so many centuries, they 
have not yet learned how to dress with taste. 
They have a savage's preference for bright colours, 
which on their stalwart figures look glaring and 
vulgar ; whereas the Hindoo, in as bright and more 
varied colours, always produces a beautiful harmony. 
" Judging from the habits of the negro, " says Mr. 
Eodway, " we must presume that his ancestor was 
a nocturnal animal. As we approach the torrid 
zone, we find everywhere a tendency to indulge 
in the noonday siesta, but in no race is this 
characteristic so highly developed as in the negro. 
He will sleep in any position, and under almost 
all circumstances. At night, on the contrary, 
they remain wide awake for hours, chattering away 
like a lot of parrots. At a ball, or a wake, you will 
find the negro at his liveliest in the small hours 
of the morning." 

Our servants in British Guiana were mostly 
black or coloured people. I cannot say they were 
good servants ; they were mostly idle, dirty, and 
thoughtless, but they were affectionate and amusing, 
and, as a rule, fairly honest. They have one 
peculiarity in drawing the line between stealing 
money and appropriating other property. All my 
servants used to help themselves to my sugar, 
bread, fish, spirits, beer, or anything to which they 
had access ; but I could leave loose silver or copper 
about without missing a cent, and they would be 
furious if you called them thieves because they 


took your food and drinks. A thief is a person 
who steals money; but a servant only takes his or 
her master's goods. 

In their speeches and writings the educated 
negro almost equals the celebrated Bengali Baboo. 
I have received many extraordinary and amusing 
letters from residents in my different magisterial 
districts. Take the following as a sample : 

" SIB, You yourself is a mortal man that God 
Almighty has made, and through your dignity and 
wisdom Her Majesty has appointed you to assist 
the Governor to rool the nations. Therefore Sir, 
you become not only a Magistrate, but as a father 
for us in this Demerara Eiver District. So, Sir, 
I trust with all confidence that you will hearken 
to my humble statement. I am obliged to inform 
Your Worship that on the llth March 1874 about 
seven o'clock in the night I was barbarously 
beaten by Joseph Adonis and his wife with sticks, 
and inflict wounds on my body and Bloodshed. 
Also Deprived me of the sum of twelve dollars 
and seventy-two cents I had brought from town 
with me, the very night, was tied into a handker- 
chief and was into my pocket. Both parties 
deprived me all. I am obliged to confess to Your 
Worship that I was overtaken in liquor and became 
drunk, so that I could not defend myself. After- 
wards they hit upon the results of what they had 
done, they planned out to take the first steps of 
Law before Your Worship so as to make their ends 
right, and before I recovered my health from the 


beating, her husband already set up his wife before 
Your Worship with their complaint. Moreover 
the Complainer have many witnesses that are 
living with her in one aboad and her husband 
soporting them. They will no doubt purge them- 
selves before Your Worship, and I having only one 
though a sconstable and slow of speech. I hereby 
subject myself to Your Worship decision on Court 
day, and trust that the Almighty will enhance Your 
Worship to greater Honour for justice sake." 

Their speeches are as wonderful as their letters. 
At a black wedding one of the guests delivered 
an oration which he had carefully written down. 

" My Friends, it is with feelings of no ordinary 
nature which have actuated my inmost heart on this 
present occasion, for on such festivities so full of 
mirth and aggrandisement, when the Bridegroom 
and Bride in all their splendour repair to the house 
of reception, and there we find familiar friends and 
neighbours heralding the consummation of their 
enterprise, it fills me with that enthusiasm which 
otherwise would fail to draw out our congratulations. 

" And now I must close, and take the phrase 
Ne quid nemis ' too much of one thing is good for 
nothing.' Trusting these few remarks may be 
found multum in parvo, as I am now attacked with 
cacoetkes loquendi. I shall resort to my ex 
cathedra, asking the ladies present melodiously 
to sing for me a verse of the hymn 



11 ' How welcome was the call, 
And sweet the festal day.' " 

Black people are, as a rule, very improvident, 
and it is no use arguing with them that it is un- 
wise to eat and drink for one day at an expense 
which must entail hunger and want on a future 
day ; they will always make such a reply as this : 
" Please God, me rnassa, me must drunk to-night ; 
to-morrow ain't come yet." 

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I 
remember overhearing three black men talking 
together at a local exhibition held in the Assembly 
Eooms in Georgetown, where the Colony Arms, 
with the motto Damns petimusque vicissim were 
conspicuously displayed. 

First scholar : " Is what language is this ? " 
(referring to the motto). " It must be some of dem 
foreign tongue. " 

Second scholar : " Yes bo, you is right, is 
Dutch. Before time, you know, de Calony belang 
to de Dutch.' ' 

Third scholar. " Dutch who ! it ain't no 
Dutch, is English. Don't you see, D-A-M Dam, 
U-S us Dam us. Is what buckra always a do 
us poor people." 

But the greatest fun is obtained from the 
witnesses and prisoners when they appear in the 
Magistrate's Court. Some of their answers when 
under examination are witty, some are ludicrous, 
and the gravity of the presiding magistrate is 
often sorely tried. A witness in the Supreme 
Criminal Court was asked if he had done a thing 


spontaneously. " Oh yes," said the witness. The 
judge, thinking he did not understand, asked him 
if he knew the meaning of the word. " Oh yes, 
your Honour, it means to be candid, to be 
punctual, to be positive. " So the judge dried 
up, seeing that he had met a cleverer man than 

At the same sessions the judge asked a witness, 
" Was it a severe blow ? " " Yes, sir, it was a 
compactable blow." Judge: " What do you 
mean?" Witness: "Yes, sir, it was a good 
hard social blow." 

Bullying barristers of the Old Bailey stamp are 
not unknown in British Guiana, but they often 
find the witnesses too much for them. Counsel 
in one case, trying to force his view of a trans- 
action on a witness, said, "Now, sir, what I say 
is true." Witness: "I no know dat." Counsel: 
" What do you mean, sir ? " Witness : " I kiss 
book to talk true; you no kiss book, you hable 
for lie." 

A black man was being cross-examined by 
counsel in the Criminal Court, and being rather 
hard pressed, became indignant and excited, and 
exclaimed, "Look you; you tink you catch me, 
but you lie. I been here too often. I been to 
gaol too ; you can't catch me. Bring two Bibles, 
I kiss dem." 

Some amusing cross-examinations take place 
when both witness and prisoner are men of the 
same class. The black people use words in a 
curious way a sort of Alice-in- Wonderland way 


meaning just the opposite of what they intend 
to say. It is a common practice of theirs, when 
describing their injuries, to say, " He beat me 
most merciful, sah ! " meaning, of course, un- 
mercifully. " Kemember," says the prisoner to 
the witness, "that you have a dying soul," 
meaning just the contrary. A prisoner, who was 
somewhat at a loss for a subject of cross-examina- 
tion, addressed the witness: "Does you know de 
ninth commandment ? " Witness (with indigna- 
tion) : " Go to bed, man ! I got a dying soul to 
account for, and I ain't going to tell a lie, com- 
mandment or no commandment.' 1 After this 
cross-examination was over, I told the prisoner 
that he could address the jury. "Tanks, your 
honour," he replied, " but I is a pore man and 
-can't scarcely dress myself, much less all dem 
gentlemen, " which was evidently " meant 

In the colony, as in England, it is difficult 
to obtain a definition of the exact state of a man 
under alcoholic influence. The various shades 
of drunkenness are minutely definable. Once I 
.asked a policeman, when I was holding court at 
Capoey, "Was the prisoner drunk?" "Drunk, 
your worship ! oh no, he was only social." And 
every time you ask the same question you get a 
different answer. In the minds of most black 
people a man is never drunk unless he lies 
helpless and insensible, like a log, by the roadside. 

In Suddie court-room I once asked a witness 
if he were married. "Not yet," he replied, "but 


I have a girl named Sarah who is my repeating 

At the same court I was examining a little 
girl to ascertain whether she had religious know- 
ledge enough to understand the nature of an oath ; 
so I asked her if she knew who God was. She 
said, Yes, she knew God : he lived at Bush Lot ; 
and when I asked her if she knew that there was 
a heaven and hell, she replied that heaven was a 
place where lots of foo-foo soup and fish were to 
he had. 

I told this story to a brother magistrate, and 
he capped it by another which happened to him 
at Belfield. 

Magistrate, to small boy, aged ten, who ap- 
peared in the witness-box : " Now, boy, do you 
know what an oath is?" Boy: " Oh yes, sir." 
Magistrate : "If you were to kiss the Bible and 
then tell a lie, where would you go to after ? " 
Boy: " I would go to the Portuguee shop, sir." 

As I have before remarked, the various nation- 
alities and races which inhabit British Guiana 
have produced most curious effects of miscegena- 
tion, and this has resulted in the most delicate 
subdivision of social grades. The pure black 
people despise the mulattoes, who in return look 
down upon the black; a quadroon takes the pas 
of a mulatto, and the married women turn up 
their noses at their sisters living in unlawful 
unions ; the legitimate scorn the illegitimate, and 
so on. But sometimes distinctions are drawn 
which seem to outsiders rather subtle. A parson 


was making a pastoral visit to his flock, and, 
speaking to the grandmother of a fine boy some 
two years old, who was running about the house, 
said, "What a sad pity such a fine child is 
illegitimate ! " " Illegitimate, passon ! youself 
too ! " exclaimed the irate grannie. " His mother 
is a decetent married woman, she husband a pan- 
boiler in Berbice, married fifteen years Easter 
coming, and his fadder a manager used to be 
in Essequibo. How you call he illegitimate ? " 
"But;," gently replied the parson, "if his father 
was not married to his mother there can be no 
doubt as to his condition." " Well, passon," said 
the old lady, " if you say his fadder illegitimate 
I isn't mind, but his mother is a decetent married 
woman, and if the boy isn't legitimate, he harf 
and harf." 

There was an amusing story told of a parson 
in Antigua. A missionary meeting was being 
held in the Church schoolroom, when the proceed- 
ings were interrupted by the unseemly behaviour 
of some mulatto young men who crowded about 
the doorways, so the parson strode down the 
building, and addressing the young men, exclaimed, 
" You men, the black people despise you, and the 
white people despise you, and if you don't behave 
yourselves better we will cease to make you." 

The black people, as a rule, bully the un- 
fortunate coolies when they have them at an 
advantage; but I have seen twenty coolies with 
hackia-sticks, and led by a white overseer, clear 
the middle walk of an estate of a rnob of black 


men, who ran for their lives. Despite the scarcity 
of women amongst the East Indian population, it 
is the rarest thing in the world for an Indian to 
take up with a black woman. There is a mutual 
antipathy between the races. A black prisoner 
once asked a coolie witness, " You know me?" 
The Hindoo, with supreme contempt, replied, " Me 
no keep company with black men." 

The ceremony of marriage is not much regarded 
among the masses in Demerara. In 1885 the per- 
centage of illegitimate births was 61-08, and I 
don't think matters have improved much since. 
As a comparison, I may mention that in the same 
year the percentage in Ireland was only 2*08. 
One reason why such a minority of the coloured 
people in British Guiana are married is that they 
won't marry unless they can do so like white 
people, with carriages, white satin, and wedding- 
cake. Some of the more respectable people form 
unions which last for years, and finally end in 
marriage, the children often acting as bridesmaids 
to their mother. It is also absolutely necessary that 
proper wedding garments should be worn. A city 
clergyman, after long and patient entreaty, had 
prevailed upon a man and woman, both well up 
in years, who had been " living in sin," to get 
married. The day was fixed and the bride arrived 
at church, where the bridegroom had preceded her. 
What was her horror and indignation to see that 
he was dressed in a short jacket, or jumper, instead 
of a long black frock-coat, which is de rigueur on 
such occasions. It was more than she could 


stand, the insult was overpowering ; so she hounced 
out of church, and went back to her house, saying, 

" She would be d d if she would marry any 

man in a common jumper." 

Even when they are married, the pledge to 
love, honour, and obey is not very strictly kept 
by some women. For instance, a married lady, 
hearing her husband praised by the curate of her 
parish, exclaimed, " Me husbant ! Is me husbant 
you call a good man ? He read his Bible ? Yes ; 
but if you watch you will see it upsy down, and 
he reading Revelations for Genesis. He ain't 
nothing but a d d old hangman ! " 

Marriages are made the excuse for a good 
spree, which is kept up till next morning, and 
often ends in a free fight and both bride and bride- 
groom appearing before the magistrate. Some- 
times it would seem that the spree is the main 
object of the wedding, if one can believe the 
following dialogue, which was overheard in the 
street First lady : " I hear you bin marry las' 
week. Is who your husbant?" Second lady: 
"He from de diggins, but I ain't 'member he 
name. We had a hable wedding, carriage and 
everyting. I just hear in de market that me 
husban' gone back to de diggins since Tuesday." 

Generally something ludicrous happens at these 
weddings. At a marriage at Mahaicony, after the 
feast was over, the bridegroom suggested to the 
bride that it was time to go home. " Eh, eh," 
said she. " Go home wid you, onpossible ! 
You must be mad! " The bridegroom tried hard 


to teach her her duty, but it was no use. She 
said she wouldn't leave her pappa, for she always 
had a decent " karratah," and she didn't know 
what encouragement she had given him to make 
him think she would do such a " wutless thing 
as go to he house." 

Married women are apt to give themselves airs, 
so it is as well to think the matter over carefully 
before hurrying into matrimony. I heard a story 
about a hard-working, well-meaning Wesleyan 
minister, who was urging an old man to marry 
the woman with whom he had lived for many 
years. But at last, when the subject was renewed, 
the old man replied, " Well, minister, we have 
discoursed together me son John, and me datter 
Selina and dem all say married is very danger. 
Dis time de ole woman 'tand quiet ; but de children 
say, if I marry she, de old woman will get out- 
lawded, and put on too much airs. Better 'tand 

But it sometimes happens that a man is too 
anxious to get married, and runs the danger of 
being a bigamist or trigamist. During the Jubilee 
year, 1887, one of the clergy announced that in 
honour of the Queen's Jubilee he would marry 
couples without fees. One day an African came 
to him and said he wanted to be married. "All 
right," said the parson, "bring your bride." 
" Yes, passon, me bring 'em me bring two." 
" What, bring two ? Impossible ! You cannot 
have more than one wife." " Yes, passon, me 
know. He very wicked have more than one wife ; 


never do sich a ting. Me marry two, but one for 
'tand one side till first dead, so leff me." He 
thought he would take advantage of the cheap 
marrying to provide himself with wives for life. 

In a country where the males outnumber the 
females, it is not often that a widow is unable to 
console herself for the loss of her husband or 
companion; but she rarely does so with the 
rapidity of Nancy Bascom, about whom the follow- 
ing story was told. She was seen sitting and 
crying over her dead husband. " Don't cry, 
mammy," said a consoling friend, " don't cry, 
man dead, man dey." This consolation in the 
reminder that though one man was dead, some 
remained alive, acted benignly on the widow's 
sorrow. She lifted her head, dried her tears, and 
replied, "Yes, sistah is true, and one old man 
been ask me already." 

The negroes are very fond of long, high-sound- 
ing names. Surnames have been acquired by the 
ex-slaves, but they show their freedom by not tying 
themselves down to any one name, but change it 
at pleasure. Numbers of Congo men were called 
after the proprietor or manager of the estate on 
which they were first located, so we find great 
numbers of Bascoms, Fields, Eussells, and Mac- 
almans. The old slave names, such as Venus, 
Adonis, Hercules, Pompey became surnames, so 
that we have Thomas Hercules, William Adonis. 
Titles find much favour with them, especially 
amongst the ladies prince, princess, queen, lady, 
duchess. One decidedly plain young woman told 


me her name was Lovely Venus ; whilst another 
dirty commonplace piece of humanity, after she 
had kissed the Bible, gave her name as Princess 
Matilda. I was rather taken aback by a swagger- 
ing buck nigger at Suddie, who stepped into the 
witness-box and told the clerk his name was 
Wellington Napoleon Hamilton Smith. Knowing 
their weakness, a wag of a registrar endowed two 
unfortunate boys with celebrated titles. 

" Massa," said a respectable black gentleman 
to the Kegistrar of Births for his district " massa, 
me make you know dat for me wife confine Tues- 
day gone and she gie me twins, both of dem boys, 
and me ax you be so kind as gie me name for dem." 
"Well," said the Eegistrar, "I think you had 
better call them Waverley and Guy Mannering." 
" Tank you, me massa, dem name fust rate, but me 
beg you write dem on a crip of paper, else me no 
'member dem." 

Sometimes they can find reasons for their 
eccentricity in the choice of names. A country 
parson was once taken aback when the happy 
father, presenting his tenth son for baptism, 
announced that he had selected for the unfor- 
tunate infant the name of Judas Iscariot. Said 
he, " Dats the boy's name. Judas hez been slighted. 
Nobody hez eber had de immortal courage to name 
a chile from dat man. But dat ain't de main 
reason why I named him Judas ; I'se got de Bible 
ter 'stain me in gibben de chile dat name." " How 
does the Bible sustain you in desiring to perpe- 
tuate that name?" asked the astonished parson. 


" It's dis fack; Christ in remarking ob Judas said 
it would hab been better for dat man ef he hadn't 
been born." "Well?" "An' considering how 
many mouts is opened at the do 7 when I goes home 
wid a side of meat, it would be better fur dat boy 
of mine ef he had nebber seen daylight. I takes 
de Scriptur fer de references. In de fucher, ef I 
finds dat de boy hez made improvements on hisself 
den I change his name ter Jim." 

My old friend X. Beke told me a ridiculous 
story about two black girls who were returning 
from work, and met on the road. They were 
wearing but a scanty amount of clothes, but each 
had a baby in her arms, the result of youthful 
indiscretion. There was some quarrel between 
them, and a wordy war ensued. At the close one 
damsel, turning away, said, "Well, I don want no 
more discoorse with you, Miss Teraza." " Me 
make you know, marm," retorted the other girl, 
"that for me name no Teraza but Tereesa." 
" Well, me dear," was the reply, " Teraza or 
Tereesa both de same, for me name a better name 
than for your own, for me name Diana de God- 
dess of Chaste ; " and she strutted off with a swing 
of her ragged skirt. 

I have written above of the curious way in 
which the people muddle up and misapply words. 
The following dialogue was heard in the street : 
"Who dead, me dear?" "A bachelor child no 
mo." "Wha he name?" "Miss Bessy Colly- 
more." "Eh! eh! how you make she a 
bachelor? " "Well, you see she no been married. 


and women who no been married yet is called 
bachelor/' " Fader! I never knew dat." 

As they use words of abuse which they don't 
understand themselves, but their very vagueness 
making them seem more terrible, they are equally 
outraged if you use words to them which they don't 
understand, and which sound of an abusive nature, 
like Sheridan's fish-fag who was rendered dumb 
by being called an isosceles triangle. In good- 
humoured familiarity a lady going out once said to 
her servant, " Au revoir! " but was astonished by 
the reply, " Ow ! me missy, so long 'ave I bin 
wid you, and for to cuss me like a this, yourself 
too ! " 

There is a great want in Demerara of an insti- 
tution for the proper training of midwives. The 
old women who are employed for this necessary 
work are stupid, ignorant, and superstitious, with 
one or two exceptions. An inquest was held on 
the body of a young woman named Hope, who lost 
her life through the utter stupidity and barbarity 
of the midwife, a woman named Amsterdam. She 
deliberately tied the woman with a rope and 
stretched her; then manipulated her body in a 
violent way, expecting the energetic treatment 
would help the birth ; at last, the kneading pro- 
cess having failed, she belaboured the poor woman's 
body with a stick, being unable to think of any- 
thing which could better help the poor suffering, 
tortured patient out of her trouble. The midwife 
had been called in on the 28th of March, and 
on the 30th of March, 1874, after suffering awful 


agonies, Hope died, her child still unborn. Talk- 
ing about a school for the training of midwives, 
I was reading an account of a meeting in London 
in support of such an institution, when a lady 
speaker electrified her audience by asserting that 
she had given birth to six fine children without the 
intervention of a man. 

( 271 ) 


Good conduct of the coloured people Occasional outbreaks Riots in 
Georgetown Portuguese shopkeepers Antipathy between them 
and the masses Murder of Julia Chase March, 1889 Assault in 
the market Rising of the people Police Special constables 
Street fighting Incendiary fires West India Regiment Volunteers 
Proclamation Permission to fire Results Arrival of bluejackets 
and marines of H.M.S. Canada Unfortunate murder Running 
amok Excitement Emptying the gaol Ludicrous results Com- 
pensation for damage done by rioters Creole superstitions Obeah 
Poisoning Education Want of reverence Confirmation Jumping 
Jenny Coloured gentlemen Extension of the franchise A local 
civil service Painless dentistry A state of prognostication The 
benefits of corporation. 

TAKING them as a whole, the negroes can be 
favourably compared with most white races ; they 
are usually a law-abiding, well-behaved people. 
Crowds like those which attend the races are more 
noisy than an English crowd, but there is less 
ruffianism and brutality; but at times, under 
strong excitement, the black man becomes riotous 
and dangerous. Such an occurrence happened in 
my time in Georgetown, and may fairly be included 
in these reminiscences. 

Amongst other attempts to supply the demand 
for labour on the estates after the abolition of 
slavery, was the introduction into British Guiana 


of a number of Portuguese from Madeira and the 
Azores. As labourers on the estates they proved 
a failure ; the first shiploads imported were almost 
destroyed by fever, and those that followed soon 
deserted the cane pieces and embarked in other 
pursuits. So much mortality had attended the 
first introduction of Portuguese labourers from 
Madeira and the Azores, that the medical autho- 
rities were at their wits' end to devise some 
remedy or preventive. Dr. Blair, in a letter to 
the Lamaha Committee, advocated placing newly 
arrived Portuguese on the pegass land, which 
bordered parts of the canal, as an experiment as 
to whether peat land is a preventive against inter- 
mittent fever. This strange proposal found no 
favour with the committee. 

Being very thrifty people, with an innate taste 
for bargaining, they soon saved up money, and 
established themselves as shopkeepers and trades- 
men, and that so successfully that in thirty years' 
time the whole small retail business of the colony 
fell into their hands. With one or two exceptions, 
every rum-shop in the colony was owned by 
Portuguese, and half a dozen firms of the same 
nationality were firmly established in Georgetown 
as wholesale merchants. The coloured population 
of the colony, with a few honourable exceptions, 
is of an entirely opposite type to the Portuguese. 
Quashie lives only for the day; he never saves 
any money, and never looks for a day ahead. 
Even in furnishing provisions for daily use, the 
poorer black people never buy anything except for 


immediate needs by pennyworths at a time, and 
so naturally pay the highest price for their neces- 
sary food. A Portuguese shop exists at the corner 
of every street, with which all the poor people 
in its immediate neighbourhood have numerous 
dealings every day. The usual antagonistic feel- 
ing which must always exist between buyer and 
seller exists between them; and this feeling is 
much intensified by the contempt with which the 
people treat the Portuguese, and the fraudulent 
spirit which the shopkeepers show towards their 
customers. The use of unjust weights and 
measures is a common practice amongst these 
small shop-keepers ; and although they cannot 
detect it, the coloured people are well aware of 
the fact. Their feelings are too often expressed 
in insults and menaces, which sometimes drive 
even the mean-spirited shopmen to retaliation, 
and a row ensues, which brings the policeman 
on the scene, and finds its development in the 
magistrate's court. 

The ill feeling between the Portuguese and the 
coloured population first came to a head in 1846, 
when a general rising of the black population 
caused the destruction of most of the Portuguese 
shops in several of the principal districts of the 
colony. Although the public peace was not 
broken, the ill feeling between the two races never 
died out, but only slumbered, waiting for an op- 
portunity to break out afresh. Such an incentive 
occurred in 1889. A man named Manoel Gou- 
salves, a Portuguese, had murdered his paramour, 



Julia Chase, a mulatto girl, in open daylight in 
a small room in a yard filled with tenants, and in 
the presence of a witness, by shooting her with 
a revolver, he having openly and frequently 
expressed his intention to kill her. He was tried 
and condemned to death ; hut, for some reason or 
another, the officer at that time administering 
the Government, in the absence on leave of the 
Governor, considered the case one for the inter- 
position of the Crown, and commuted the sentence 
to penal servitude for life. 

Unfortunately, not long before a coloured man 
had been executed for a similar offence, and the 
coloured people were indignant that different 
justice was meted out to one race from another. 
The governing classes were well aware of the 
mistake that had been made, and the judges of 
the Supreme Court took the somewhat unusual 
course of memorializing the Secretary of State on 
the subject, stating that they had reason to fear 
that, if such distinctions were made in administer- 
ing justice to men of different races and colour, 
the consequences to the colony might be very 
serious. This memorial received confirmation in 
a very short time. 

On the 19th of March, 1889, a row occurred in 
the Stabroek Market between a black boy and a 
Portuguese shopkeeper, which ended in the man 
striking the boy on the head with a pole, and 
laying him apparently lifeless at his feet. A cry 
went through the market that the Portuguese had 
murdered a black boy, and about two hundred 


black and coloured people gathered in a rnob and 
made an attack upon the Portuguese stalls. The 
constables in the market were unable to cope with 
the mob, so a messenger was sent to the Central 
Police Station, and about twenty-five policemen 
were sent with two inspectors to their assistance. 
By their efforts the crowds were driven out of the 
market, and the gates were closed, the injured 
boy being sent to the Colonial Hospital. 

But all the people who were driven out of the 
market rushed in an excited state through the 
city, calling out to the people in all directions for 
vengeance on the Portuguese. The whole town 
was up ; Portuguese passing along the streets, or 
riding in the tramcars, were assaulted with sticks 
and stones, and had to fly for refuge to their 
houses ; shops were attacked, and their contents 
thrown out into the streets. In fact, the whole 
city in a few hours became at the mercy of a 
riotous mob. 

Georgetown is a city of more than fifty thousand 
inhabitants, and the streets measure about fifty 
miles in extent. There were about a hundred and 
fifty police stationed in different parts of the city, 
but half of them had been on night duty, and w^ere 
lying in. The Governor of the Colony, Viscount 
Gormanston, had returned from leave a few weeks 
before the emeute, and upon him the mayor and 
town council waited to inform him of the state of 
affairs. I was at that time Sheriff of Dernerara, 
and His Excellency sent for me and the acting 
Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Harragin, and 


informed me that lie looked to me to preserve the 
peace of the city, placed me in supreme command 
over the military, volunteers, and police, and 
authorized me to swear in a hundred special con- 
stables to help the police in the execution of their 

It was evident that His Excellency had under- 
rated the serious nature of the outbreak and the 
difficulties with which we had to contend, as he 
refused the mayor's request to double the number 
of special constables to be enrolled ; so I found 
myself at nightfall with about a hundred policemen 
and a hundred special constables armed (?) with 
some rotten old police truncheons, to restrain a 
mob of ten thousand people scattered throughout 
fifty miles of streets. 

Nothing is more disheartening and demoralizing 
than street-fighting. As you charge the mob, they 
disperse, running into the open yards on both 
sides, from which they assail you with volleys of 
broken bottles, bricks, and stones, and then form 
up in your rear. If you right-about face and 
charge back again, the same tactics are repeated. 
If you clear one street, the mob swarms into the 
next. Bottles, jugs, and brickbats are flying in 
all directions, apparently from invisible hands; 
and whereas the members of your force are being 
continually diminished by injuries received and by 
the necessity for escorts for prisoners and extra 
guards for police-stations, the mob has, on the 
other hand, a tendency to swell in numbers as the 
row goes on. 


We had a very hot time of it that night. Fifty 
police-constables were injured and two inspectors 
placed Jwrs de combat ; and there were very few of 
the hundred specials who were not wounded or 
otherwise injured, some of them seriously. Three 
incendiary fires had taken place ; so, soon after 
midnight, I went to Government House, and told 
the Governor I could do nothing without further 
assistance ; and he then wrote an order authorizing 
me to call out the military, and placing them 
under my orders. The troops which at that time 
formed our small garrison were two companies of 
the West India Eegiment, under the command of 
Major Caulfield. Now, between these black troops 
and the black police there was a long-standing 
feud, and I was not at all sure that they would not 
side with the mob against their ancient enemies 
the police. The mob were well aware of this, for 
many of the women taunted me as I drove through 
the streets. "You! Sheriff! bring out the sol- 
diers, and we will wash the streets with your blood. " 
I have been blamed by many for not calling out 
the soldiers, so I have given my reasons. 

When I left Government House I rode down 
to the Central Police Station, where I was met by 
Major Turner, commanding the volunteers, who 
informed me that he had a company of his men 
under arms at the Drill Hall, if I wanted them. 
I jumped at his offer, and soon had the pleasure of 
seeing his men march in, more than eighty strong. 
With them we cleared several streets at the point 
of the bayonet, and made many prisoners. 


The Portuguese shops being now mostly sacked, 
and the rioters being either drunk or exhausted, 
there was a lull in the storm about 4 a.m. But 
this peace was only temporary ; at 8 a.m. the 
rioting was again in full blast. A large party had 
started up the east bank of the Demerara River, 
destroying all the Portuguese shops en route. The 
police were tired out, the lock-ups were crammed 
with prisoners, and things looked very black indeed. 
The rioters at last made an attack upon a large 
rum-shop called the White Coconut Tree. They 
were driven back by the police, but were gathering 
reinforcements to renew the attack. I went to 
Lord Gormanston, and told him I must have per- 
mission to fire on the rnob, a permission hitherto 
withheld. So His Excellency gave me a written 
order authorizing the police to fire upon all persons 
breaking into any shops or houses or found pillag- 
ing therein, and ordered proclamations to that 
effect to be posted up over the city. 

From that moment the riot was virtually at 
an end. After the first discharge of the police 
revolvers, when the mob saw we were firing in 
earnest, they gradually melted away, and all danger 
of any serious catastrophe was at an end. How- 
ever, for several days and nights the city was 
patrolled by large bodies of police and special 
constables. The Governor had telegraphed to 
Barbados, and H.M.S. Canada arrived and landed 
a force of bluejackets and marines, but, fortunately, 
we had no need of their services. 

After the row had been suppressed, it was 


nearly rekindled by an unfortunate occurrence 
which took place about nine o'clock at night a few 
days afterwards. The rum- shops, which had been 
closed for several days by order of the Governor, 
had been reopened, and the people had been 
making up for the time they had been deprived 
of their favourite beverage. At the Peacock rum- 
shop, which was situated in a low part of the town, 
a coloured man from the Spanish main had run 
amok, and had stabbed a black man to the heart 
with his long knife. I was called at once to the 
scene of the tragedy, and found the rum-shop 
surrounded by a yelling mob, a black man lying 
on the platform in front of the house on his back 
in a pool of blood, with his arms extended, and his 
murderer inside the shop, guarded by a few police- 
men. The Inspector-General met me here, and 
we walked amongst the crowd, trying to pacify 
them, assuring them that the assailant was not a 
Portuguese, and that we would guarantee that 
justice should be done upon him. We impressed 
five of the most respectable men we could find, and 
I swore them in as a jury over the body of the man 
lying on the platform. The Spaniard was removed, 
under a strong guard, to the Central Police Station, 
the dead body was carted to the mortuary, and 
after a time we persuaded the people to disperse. 

The Spaniard was in due course tried for 
murder, and it came out in the evidence that he 
had been drinking and became quarrelsome, push- 
ing people about and threatening them, until a 
row began between himself and two black men, 


one of whom lie wounded in the arm, and the other 
he stabbed in the chest with a long knife, which 
he drew out of his waistband. He was condemned 
to death, and the sentence was carried out. He 
was a fine, handsome man, of splendid physique 
and regular features. I visited him the day before 
his execution, and he told me that he believed he 
had killed the black man, because all the witnesses 
had sworn that they had seen him do it, but that 
he himself had no recollection of it at all ; that he 
had been drinking for two days, and remembered 
nothing of what happened at the rum-shop, and 
only came to himself in the police-cell. The next 
morning, after I had read his death-warrant, and 
he was being pinioned by the executioner, he 
made the same statement, walked on to the scaffold 
with head erect and a firm step, and met his death 
as a brave man should. 

One ludicrous circumstance arose out of the 
riots. The gaol was so crowded with prisoners 
that we could not find room for the people who 
must be removed from the lock-ups, so I obtained 
the permission of the Governor to discharge from 
gaol all prisoners who were in custody for trivial 
offences against the labour laws, vagrancy, and 
such like. These men, to the number of about 
fifty, were mustered and discharged, but some of 
the East Indian prisoners refused to leave the gaol, 
and had literally to be kicked out. One coolie fell 
on the ground at rny feet, embraced my legs, and 
begged me not to send him out of gaol. cc Sahib/' 
he pleaded, "you me father, you me mother, who 


feed me, who care me." This reminds me of a 
story I heard in India. There was a riot among 
the prisoners in the Alipore gaol, near Calcutta, 
which came to the Governor's ears. That gallant 
officer came out of his house and proceeded to the 
prison yard. For a moment the row ceased at 
the appearance of the Governor, when he shouted 
out, " Look here, you pigs, if you are not quiet at 
once, hy G d, I will turn you all out of the gaol ! " 
at which fearful threat all the mutineers became 
as quiet as mice. 

Of course, after the riots were over, the Portu- 
guese, who had not made the slightest attempt to 
defend either themselves or their property, de- 
manded compensation from the Government for 
the losses they had sustained ; and after a pro- 
tracted inquiry, which was much prolonged owing 
to the false and exaggerated claims which were 
made, more than $75,000 was paid to the 

The Creoles are very superstitious, but I never 
knew that they construed literally the old adage, 
"Take a hair of the dog that bit you/' until one 
day, when I saw Bayley, my butler, cutting some 
hair off my dog Lion's tail. " What are you doing, 
Bayley ? " I said. " Please, sir," he replied, " that 
old black man say the dog bite him, and he beg 
for a few hairs to cure the bite." 

Much has been told and written about that 
strange belief of the negro race called "obeah." 
It is similar to the ancient belief in witchcraft, 
and the obeah man is only another form of the 


witch or wizard of the past. Everything that is 
mysterious and incomprehensible to the negro is 
obeah. In practising my judicial functions I have 
often been made the subject of an obeah. On one 
occasion, on stepping on to the dais in court, I 
found it covered with small red things, which, on 
examination, proved to be hundreds of bits of red 
paper cut into the shape of hearts. Another time, 
on one arm of my chair was hung a sort of rag 
doll, which, on being opened, was found to contain 
a human tooth, some foul-smelling black powder, 
and some withered herb. This was great obeah, 
and it was with the greatest difficulty that I could 
compel any of the black policemen to touch the 
unclean thing. I have found similar articles 
suspended over my hammock when I was asleep, 
and the curious thing is one can never discover 
how the different articles are placed in the position 
in which they are found. Even if any one knows, 
they are too frightened to speak, for fear of the 
obeah working evil to themselves. 

In some cases obeah takes the form of poisoning. 
There was one case that came under my know- 
ledge, where a jealous mulatto woman, who, as the 
custom was, had been her master's servant and 
concubine, obtained from an obeah man a love- 
philtre to retain her master's affections, which 
had strayed away, and the poor man, imbibing this 
potion daily in his coffee, wasted away, and died 
in agony. 

It is rarely safe to keep a black cook after 
determining to send her away. In lieu of a month's 


notice, most masters prefer to give a month's 
wages and get rid of the woman, as she is very 
apt to put something in your food to turn your 
heart towards her again. 

Since the extension of education in the Colony, 
the Creole youths begin to despise agriculture as 
a means of support, and wish to become parsons, 
lawyers, or doctors. It is wonderful how they 
succeed, and where the money comes from to send 
them to England. I heard an amusing conver- 
sation between two old men on this subject, 
discussing the future of a promising young man. 
First old man : " He is a big boy, and must do 
something for a living. You have mind to make 
me him a liyer ? " Second old man : " No, liyer, 
no, my mind ain't gie me fo dat. I has a cousin in 
Berbice gaol for cutting she matty; an oder one 
in the sea-wall gang ; and me wife's brudder in 
Massaruni for stealing cow; there is law enough 
in me family already." 

Although professing Christians, many of the 
people look upon their religion as a higher kind of 
obeah. It is difficult to persuade them to behave 
with proper solemnity at the Sacrament, and their 
conduct in church is sometimes disgraceful. It 
is not to be wondered at that uneducated negroes 
should fail to understand the mysteries of the 
Eucharist, which have divided Christendom into 
a dozen opposing camps. The actual Presence 
was, however, realized by an old woman, who, on 
receiving the cup before the altar, quickly, and 
before she could be stopped, drained it of its 


contents. When remonstrated with, she replied, 
" Ow ! me massa, me too much lub me Jesus. " 

A magistrate on the east coast tried a young 
woman for using abusive and obscene language on 
the public road, and as it was not her first offence 
of a similar nature, a fine of $10, or in default of 
payment a month's imprisonment was imposed. 
Before the court rose, some of the relatives and 
friends of the woman humbly begged his worship 
to reduce the fine, as they couldn't raise $10, 
and they were very anxious to keep the woman 
out of prison. The worthy beak yielded to their 
solicitations, and reduced the fine to $6, which 
was all the woman could raise. When the magis- 
trate was leaving for town, the sergeant in charge 
of the police-station said to him, " Do you know, 
sir, why the woman was so anxious to keep out of 
gaol ? " " No ; why ? " " Because the bishop is 
holding a confirmation to-morrow, and she is to 
be confirmed ; her white dress and veil are all 
ready." A friend of mine had a cook who had 
been confirmed four times to his knowledge. 

In the country districts of the colony some 
incidents occur in the churches which somewhat 
disturb the solemnity of public worship. I have 
mentioned in another place the pranks of the 
goats at St. John's Church, near Suddie, and a 
more ludicrous thing happened in a church in 
Wakanaam. An early celebration was to take 
place, and the parson in his surplice and the 
devout worshippers were all gathered together in 
the sacred building. The service proceeded, but 


when the parson turned to the altar to arrange 
the sacred elements for consecration, he started 
back, for coiled on the top of the napkin lay a 
large snake, locally known as Jumping Jenny, 
which fixed its glittering eyes on the horrified 
cleric, and moved its coils as if meditating a 

Discreetly retreating to the rails, the parson 
beckoned to one of the churchwardens, and showed 
him the intruder. The valiant churchwarden went 
for assistance, and collecting two other parishioners, 
they all approached the altar, armed with wooden 
props which they had taken from the jalousies. 
Cautiously the parson and his supporters stepped 
up to the spot where the snake was lying in the 
same attitude as before, and the two leading men 
brought their sticks down with a whack on its 
body. Jenny made a leap into the air worthy of her 
name over and in the direction of her assailants, 
who incontinently fled helter-skelter down the 
aisle, the parson's surplice and the churchwarden's 
coat-tails flying in the wind. A panic seized the 
congregation, who fled after their spiritual leader, 
and Jenny was left in undisputed possession of the 
church. When they had recovered their wind, 
and feeling rather ashamed of themselves, some 
of the boldest of the congregation re-entered the 
church, armed with sticks and stones to slay the 
intruder ; but Jenny had taken advantage of their 
absence to make good her retreat. 

Of course, my anecdotes and experiences with 
regard to the coloured races in the colony app]y 


only to the labourers and peasantry, with whom, 
as a magistrate, I was brought chiefly in contact. 

There are a large number of highly educated 
black and coloured people who, except in colour, 
differ not at all from a similar class in England 
and Scotland. Some of the black barristers who 
practised in our Courts were singularly polite and 
courteous in word and manner. Of course, there 
were others somewhat the reverse, but none of 
them worse than the coarse, brow -beating 
practitioner at the Old Bailey. As a race, the 
negro is much more genial and courteous than 
the people of Britain ; the coarseness and brutality 
of the miners and labourers of England are in him 
absent, and his manners and language are generally 
pleasing and decorous. 

By the constitution of 1891, direct representa- 
tion in the Legislative Council has been granted 
to the people, who have shown eagerness to avail 
themselves of their privileges. For the first time 
in its history, the Court of Policy in 1894 was 
entered by a pure-blooded African, who, as repre- 
sentative for his native county, filled his place 
with modesty and dignity. Once grant the prin- 
ciple of representation, and its logical outcome 
must be a preponderance of the coloured element 
in the Legislative Assembly. The African races 
are more numerous than any other, as they number 
more than half of the whole population of the 
colony. The East Indians come next in point of 
numbers, and ought to be represented by some 
educated Baboos; whilst the Portuguese, who, 


although not very numerous, have a large pecu- 
niary stake in the colony, should endeavour to 
obtain the election of one of their number to 
champion their particular interests in the Chamber. 

Primary education is almost free, the cost 
being paid out of the public funds. Good 
secondary education can be obtained at a reason- 
able cost, whilst Queen's College supplies more 
ambitious youths with a good public - school 
training. Scholarships have been founded for 
Creole youths, enabling them to graduate at 
English and Scotch universities. Under these 
circumstances it seems only right that the Govern- 
ment or rather, the Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, who controls the Colonies should 
institute a British Guiana Civil Service, and throw 
open all the clerkships in the Public Service to 
public competition. 

A dentist named Blank established himself 
in Georgetown, and obtained a good practice by 
his painless system of extracting teeth ; the sign 
outside his surgery, " Painless Dentistry," was 
in itself an attraction to people suffering from 
toothache. One day a stalwart gold -miner 
entered the surgery, and said that he wanted a 
tooth removed, and asked the cost. He was told 
by Blank that ordinary extraction cost 2s. 6d., 
painless extraction 5s. Weighing pain against 
pocket, the hardy miner decided upon the cheap 
and painful remedy. The forceps were adjusted, 
and with a tremendous wrench a huge molar was 
extracted from his jaw. Stung by the pain, the 


miner started up, and struck little Blank a blow 
on the chest which, as he described it, half killed 
him; but, recovering his breath, he struck the 
miner a blow on his head with the steel forceps, 
which still held the molar, and inflicted a scalp 
wound two inches long. When he saw the blood 
trickling down the man's face Blank became 
alarmed, and laying down his steel weapon, he 
brought Friar's Balsam and lint, and bound up 
the wound. In the end the miner paid his 2s. 6d., 
shook hands with Blank, and departed quite 
satisfied ; but this episode could hardly be 
described as " Painless Dentistry." 

I am sorry that I have never kept a note-book 
in which to jot down at the time the amusing 
incidents which have occurred in the various courts 
of justice over which I have presided. I can now 
only recall to my memory very few. Once a police- 
sergeant informed me, when I was sitting in the 
Police Magistrate's Court, that one of the lady 
prisoners was in a state of prognostication. When 
the prisoner was produced, it could at once be 
seen that she was in a state, the natural result 
of which could be prognosticated with perfect 

Witnesses in describing their lost or injured 
livestock, always duplicate their words ; a drake is 
called "duck-drake," a rooster a " fowl-cock," 
and a bull a " bull- cow." 

Once at a police entertainment at Suddie, we 
were much perplexed by a worthy corporal of police, 
who dilated for some time to his audience on the 


benefits of corporation. Being ourselves citizens 
of no mean city, we were willing to endorse his 
encomiums; but his discourse diverged considerably 
from his text, and became, we thought, irrelevant ; 
until at last it dawned upon our minds that the 
speaker was holding forth on the advantages of 

At the same performance four black policemen, 
who were singing to the accompaniment of their 
guitars, were encored by the audience, and were 
so pleased with themselves that they went on 
playing and singing for a long time, and would 
have gone on till midnight, only the exasperated 
inspector rushed on to the platform and threatened 
them with all sorts of pains and penalties if they 
did not stop. 



Criminals Murderers I have known Causes of murder Origin of crime 
Cause of crime in British Guiana Classification of criminals 
Amount of crime Its cause Scarcity of women Colonial laws 
Brutal child-wife murder Jealousy Kevenge Execution of felons 
Composure of condemned men Brain exhaustion Murder of Mrs. 
Walsh Walsh's strange defence and behaviour Trial and execution 
Murders by Portuguese Texeira Excitement of his countrymen 
Murders by Arabs Cayenne Escaped convicts Annamese and 
Tonquinese criminals Numerous languages spoken in sheriff's office 
Interpreters and their manners Kussian vagrants National odours 
Executioners Hamlet His bungling and brutality Execution of 
Butler Painful scene Brown The difficulties of a sheriff. 

IN recalling my past life in Guiana, it is sad to 
think how large a part was taken up in dealing 
with crime in all its aspects. The magistrate and 
judge, who are continuallyin contact with criminals, 
assume towards them much the same aspect as 
a medical man who is always combating disease. 
Familiarity does not breed contempt, but it softens 
the repulsiveness of the disease, whether mental or 
physical, and creates a feeling of interest in the 
sufferers. Having acted as Judge of the Supreme 
Court for twelve different periods, and three times 
as Attorney-General, my experience of the working 
of the criminal law is extensive. There are few 
men who can say that they have sat as Coroner 


at inquests, Magistrate in Petty Sessions, repre- 
sented the Crown as Attorney- General at Assizes, 
tried and sentenced prisoners as a Judge, and 
hanged a number of them as Sheriff ; yet I have 
performed all these functions at different times. 

I thought of heading one of my chapters, 
" Murderers I have known," for I have been 
brought into intimate acquaintance with about 
two hundred of this interesting class ; and taking 
them altogether, I felt for them more pity than 
anger. As a matter of fact, murderers in British 
Guiana are not, as a rule, bad men ; they are 
generally hurried into the commission of their 
crime by some very strong passion, such as rage, 
jealousy, or fear, and only in a minimum of cases 
are their victims slain for the purpose of sordid 
gain. Their private life may have been in most 
respects blameless, but some untoward event has 
thrown them off their mental balance, and com- 
pelled them, as it were, to the committal of a crime, 
which in their sober moments they would never 
have contemplated. There is no such over- 
mastering passion as fear ; in a paroxysm of terror 
a man will kill right and left, and is often hurried 
into the commission of murder to prevent the 
consequences of a minor offence. 

There is not a crime in the statute book with 
which I have not had to deal, many of them too 
horrible even to hint at. Without law there can 
be no crime, so in those countries where civili- 
zation has reached its highest perfection, and 
where innumerable industries and luxuries require 


proportionately numerous laws for their protection 
and development, we should expect to find the 
greatest amount of crime. And this would be so, 
if it were not that side by side with the advanced 
luxury and wealth there also springs up a philan- 
thropic sentiment, a desire to mitigate and assuage 
the miseries of the poorer classes, a development 
of education, of self-control a feeling of responsi- 
bility and love of order, which more than counter- 
acts the criminal opportunities alluded to above. 
It is in societies such as existed in British Guiana, 
which have been, as it were, in a transitional state, 
having a dark background of slavery and violence, 
an original substratum of convicts and refugees from 
justice, besides an imported population of turbulent 
and unquiet spirits from both hemispheres, that 
we may expect to find the greatest development of 
the criminal tendency. 

It is said that every nation is differentiated 
in criminal statistics by its tendency to certain 
classes of crime. To any one studying the criminal 
records of this colony the truth of this statement 
is apparent. The criminal classes, as a rule, are 
drawn from the lowest and poorest section of the 
community. It is true that no one class has a 
monopoly of crime. The medical man does some- 
times poison his wife ; the clergyman at times 
embezzles the Church funds ; a captain of dra- 
goons may commit suicide, and a banker forgery ; 
but ninety-nine-hundredths of our criminals are 
drawn from the lowest stratum of society, and 
are the offspring of want, poverty, ignorance, and 


moral and material filth. All generalizations are 
dangerous, but still I think we may concede that 
murder and felonious assaults in the colony were 
mainly committed by East Indians and Chinese ; 
larcenies by black and coloured Creoles ; wounding 
with knives and razors by coloured Barbadians; 
forgeries and embezzlements by partly educated 
coloured Creoles ; breaches of the revenue laws 
and cheating by the Portuguese : whereas perjury, 
bearing false witness, profane swearing, and in- 
decent language seem pretty evenly distributed 
amongst all nationalities. 

The amount of crime in the colony was at one 
time simply appalling. Taking the population in 
1885 at 270,000, I do not hesitate to say that the 
amount of detected crime was at least three times 
more than what is found in a population of similar 
extent in Europe. 

In the year mentioned, 2319 persons were 
committed to gaol after conviction, the population 
being estimated at 270,042, which gives us 1*97 
per cent, of the population committed in one year. 

Now, if we turn to the criminal statistics of 
England and Wales for the same year, we find 
that out of an estimated population of 27,870,586 
the number of persons committed to prison for 
indictable offences, and under summary convic- 
tions, amount to 174,324, or only 0'64 per cent, 
of the population. 

The causes of this are not far to seek or 
difficult to explain. In the first place, the 
population of Guiana was principally recruited by 


immigration ; and our immigrants, both from the 
East Indies, China, and the West Indian Islands, 
were not the most quiet, orderly, and industrious 
of those countries respectively. Secondly, we 
inherited the curse of slavery, making our black 
population untruthful and dishonest. In addition, 
an inflaming temperature, and a national drink of 
a highly intoxicating nature. One prevailing 
cause of crime amongst our East Indian immi- 
grants was the scarcity of women, causing jealousy, 
assaults, and frequently murders, to arise. An 
Indian kills his wife when she deserts him for 
another man, partly on account of jealousy and 
revenge, but more often because he is angry at being 
robbed of his jewelry, with which he has loaded 
her. By the law of the colony the jewelry given 
to the wife or mistress during cohabitation becomes 
her personal property, and when she leaves her 
husband she takes it with her. 

Now, in India, if a woman commits adultery or 
leaves her husband for any cause, her jewelry is 
stripped from off her, and remains her husband's 
property, so that, if he loses his wife, he doesn't 
lose his money, which he generally values most. 

The law of the colony with regard to East 
Indians has recently been altered, so that the 
deserted husband has some chance of recovering 
his lost property, but the number of murders from 
jealousy do not seem to decrease. I have described 
in a former chapter a case of murder from jealousy, 
and I could fill many chapters with such painful 
stories. Some of these murders were perpetrated 


with a callous indifference which seems almost 
incredible, and can only be equalled by an infuri- 
ated Malay when running amok. Take a typical 
case which happened at Plantation Aurora some 
years ago. The victim was a pretty little girl 
about twelve years of age. In open daylight the 
husband dragged the girl to the door of his house, 
and with a cutlass ruthlessly hacked her to pieces, 
whilst her friends and acquaintances looked on as 
if his offence were quite an ordinary domestic 
incident, such as might occur in any of their 
families. After finishing his bloody task, the man 
marched to the nearest police-station, carrying the 
cutlass with him, and gave himself into custody, 
confessing the crime. 

Jealousy is not the only cause of murder. The 
Hindoo is revengeful, and if he be injured or 
slighted in any way he seeks an opportunity for 
revenge. A singularly brutal murder was com- 
mitted on Plantation Triumph on the east coast. 
A Hindoo woman, with her husband and two 
children, lived in a hut near a man named Eamd- 
hin. Once friends, they had quarrelled over some 
trifling matter, and at last the dispute culminated 
by the woman accusing Kamdhin's son of having 
stolen a shilling which she had left in her house. 
The woman went to the police-station and laid a 
charge against him before the police. This so 
incensed Eamdhin that he went to the woman's 
house, cursed her roundly, and threatened her 
with his vengeance. Two hours afterwards the 
woman suckled her baby, and laid him down to sleep 


under the tamarind tree, telling her daughter, a 
little girl of four years old, to watch her brother, 
whilst she herself cleaned out the house. Shortly 
afterwards Ramdhin canie up armed with a cutlass, 
struck the sleeping babe with it on the head, killed 
it instantly, then chopped down the girl, whose 
shrieks brought out the mother, who was also 
hacked down, and, as she lay on the ground, the 
inhuman brute continued to strike her senseless 
body. Attracted by the screams, the neighbours 
ran up, and the man fled, but, being hotly pur- 
sued, was soon captured in a cane piece. By 
extraordinary good fortune the woman and girl 
recovered after weeks of suffering, and with 
injuries they will carry to their graves ; the baby 
seems to have died at once. I tried Eamdhin 
myself, at the Demerara Criminal Sessions. He 
was convicted, and I sentenced him to death, 
which sentence was duly carried out. 

I could multiply the stories of similar tragedies 
to any extent, but they would only disgust my 
readers; and, although time has softened the 
remembrance of them, yet I cannot recall them 
without some pain, as so many of them have been 
associated with certain incidents in my life which 
always filled me with abhorrence. As Sheriff, at 
one time of Essequibo and afterwards of Demerara, 
it was my painful duty to preside over all execu- 
tions of criminals a duty to which I always 
looked forward with dread, and performed with 

One thing has always struck me, and that is 


the composure with which men proceed to the 
scaffold. It is a well-known fact that most con- 
demned people sleep well the night before their 
execution, and eat a hearty breakfast when 
awakened to their last morning on earth. I think 
that this sleep is the sleep of exhausted brain- 
power the terrible agitation and suspense to 
which they have been subjected for weeks, per- 
haps months, has completely exhausted them, and 
they pass into a state of apathy and almost 
thoughtlessness, which passes for courage. Their 
eyes, before the fatal cap obscures them, have, 
in most cases, a curious far-away expression, 
as if they were only dimly conscious of their 
immediate surroundings ; and, although they talk 
calmly and rationally, their voices have the effect 
as of one talking in his sleep. I am the more 
confirmed in this impression by the conduct of 
men who have been reprieved at the last moment. 
They seem to wake as from a trance ; it takes 
them some time to grasp the meaning of the 
words they have heard, and, when it does dawn 
upon them, they become violently agitated, tremble 
all over, and often burst into tears. 

Of all the crimes that came under my imme- 
diate cognizance, none made a greater impression 
upon me at the time than one which occurred in 
1885. There was a married couple named Walsh 
living in Georgetown. The husband was a quad- 
roon, well-educated and good-looking, and about 
twenty-eight or thirty years of age ; his wife was 
a handsome young Portuguese woman, who was 


employed as a nurse at the Public Hospital. 
Walsh had himself been employed at the hospital, 
but had been discharged for some irregularity. 

There can be no doubt that Mrs. Walsh was 
not a woman of good character, and, her infidelities 
coming to the ears of her husband, he had been 
heard to threaten her with violence. He did not 
live regularly at home, but left his wife for 
different periods of time as his work kept him 
away, and Mrs. Walsh took advantage of his 
absence to entertain her numerous admirers. One 
night Mrs. Walsh retired to her bedroom about 
the usual time ; the next morning she was found 
foully murdered. When the matter was reported 
to the police^ I was immediately communicated 
with. The Inspector-General called for me, and 
drove me to the house where the body of the 
woman was lying, which presented the most 
horrible sight I ever gazed on. One look was 
enough for us, and we fled pale and gasping 
into the open air. A jury had been assembled, 
who were sworn super visum corporis, and I was 
glad to adjourn the inquiry and get away from 
the place altogether. 

Suspicion was immediately aroused against 
the husband. He was arrested some hours after- 
wards, and, after a long and painstaking exami- 
nation, he was committed for trial at the Supreme 
Criminal Court. During all the time between his 
arrest and committal Walsh preserved a reckless 
demeanour ; he smiled in the dock, and nodded 
to his friends, and when he was committed he 


called out to them to send him his new patent- 
leather shoes to wear at his trial. Before me 
Walsh always asserted that his wife had com- 
mitted suicide; but the doctors all agreed that 
it was impossible for a woman to have inflicted 
such a wound on herself, as it penetrated all the 
muscles and organs of the neck right down to 
the backbone, and must have been inflicted with 
considerable force, and by a very sharp instrument. 
Besides, there were the bloody footprints on the 
floor which corresponded in size with Walsh's 
feet ; and it was manifestly impossible that the 
poor woman could have cut her throat in the 
way described, and then washed her hands in 
the basin and wiped them on the towel. Counsel 
was engaged by Walsh in his defence, but his 
lawyer refused to conduct the defence on these 
lines, and threw up his brief. 

In the end another barrister was engaged, but 
his hands were tied by the extraordinary line 
which his client insisted upon taking in his own 
defence, so the result was a foregone conclusion. 
If Walsh had taken the advice of his first lawyer, 
by admitting the murder and pleading that, aware 
of his wife's infidelities, he had watched the house, 
seen her lover enter, and then, surprising them 
in flagrante delicto, had slain her in his wrath, the 
result, as far as he was concerned, might have 
been different. I have adverted in another place 
to the sympathy which the East Indians have 
with the injured husband who chops up his 
adulterous wife ; much the same feeling exists 


amongst the black and coloured people, and all 
the populace in this case sympathized with " poor 
Bobby Walsh. " His wife, also, was one of the 
hated Portuguese, who had deserted her lawful 
husband to intrigue with " white men." 

In the condemned cell, Walsh, who was a 
Eoman Catholic, was most assiduously attended 
by Father Eigby, a young zealous Jesuit priest, 
who entreated him to make a full confession, and 
receive the absolution of the Church, but without 

On the morning fixed for the execution, I 
proceeded to the prison, and having read the 
Governor's warrant to him, I asked Walsh if he 
acknowledged the justice of the sentence. " No," 
he replied, " I am innocent of the suicide of 
Louisa Walsh." I looked at Father Eigby, who 
was standing by the convict with a crucifix in his 
hand and reading from his book of prayers. He 
shook his head; so the dismal procession was 
formed to the scaffold. 

So great was the sympathy expressed for 
Walsh, and the excitement over his conviction 
and approaching execution, that I had thought it 
desirable to ask the Inspector-General for an 
extra police guard; so, besides the usual police 
round the scaffold, a strong body patrolled round 
the prison walls, commanded by inspectors on 
horseback. When Walsh stood upon the fatal 
drop, and the white cap was being drawn over 
his face, he said he wanted to speak. Thinking 
he was about to confess to the devoted priest, 


who was kneeling before him on the scaffold 
holding aloft the crucifix, I told the executioner 
to raise the cap, but as soon as his head was free, 
the wretched man began to curse me, the judge 
who tried him, the inspector of police in charge 
of the guard, and said he would soon meet us 
all in hell. Horrified and disgusted, I gave the 
signal to the executioner to proceed, the cap was 
readjusted, the lever pulled, and the miserable 
man was launched into eternity. With streaming 
eyes the good priest asserted that as the bolt was 
drawn Walsh called out, "I confess I am guilty." 
I was not near enough to hear him if he had said 
it ; let us hope he did. 

The Portuguese in the colony had an im- 
pression that, as capital punishment was not 
inflicted in Portugal, they could not be hanged 
in British Guiana, but this impression was rudely 

The first execution of a Portuguese for murder 
occurred in Essequibo, when I was Sheriff in that 
county. He was a man named Texeira, who had 
a handsome young wife, who was not much 
attached to him, she having been married to 
him without consulting her wishes. She went 
to visit some friends in Essequibo, and although 
her husband, who lived in Georgetown, sent to 
her twice asking her to return to him, she took 
no notice. So Texeira came down by the steamer 
from town, and going to the place where his wife 
was staying, he met her sitting and sewing in 
her friend's gallery. He asked her whether she 


would return with him to town. She replied, " No, 
I won't." " Then take that ! " he cried out; and 
snatching a large butcher's knife out of his shirt, 
he plunged it into her bosom, killing her dead 
upon the spot. 

He was tried and sentenced to death in due 
course, and was executed, despite the efforts of 
the Portuguese, who telegraphed to their am- 
bassador in London, the Duke de Saldanha, 
petitioned the Governor, and made strenuous 
efforts for his reprieve. 

One of the most frightful murders ever per- 
petrated in the colony was by some Algerian 
Arabs, but this happened when I was in India, 
so I have no personal recollection of it. It may 
be asked how these Algerian Arabs came into 
Demerara. By a somewhat roundabout way. 
Cayenne, the ill-omened French colony, is only 
separated from British Guiana by the small Dutch 
colony called Surinam ; so the convicts who 
escape in boats find their way thither, as it lies 
to leeward, and both wind and current carry them 
to our shores. At Cayenne there are many Arabs 
who have been deported thither, having been con- 
demned for manslaughter, robbery with violence, 
and other serious crimes in Algeria. In former 
days the French Government was glad to get 
rid of these wretches, and made no effort to 
reclaim them ; but, owing to the representations 
of the English Government, they are more strict 
now. All suspected fugitive criminals are arrested 
as soon as they land upon our shores, and are 


taken before a magistrate, who, if he is not 
satisfied with their explanations as to where they 
come from, commits them to prison for safe 
custody. The Governor then communicates with 
the French Governor in Cayenne, and, after 
considerable delay and much red tapeism, the 
convicts are demanded and given up to the French 

Besides Arabs, we occasionally got Annamese 
and Tonquinese criminals, who had been sent 
to Cayenne from the French possessions in the 
Malay Peninsula. My old friend the Inspector- 
General was often driven to his wits' end to 
obtain interpreters for the magistrate's court. My 
position was not a sinecure from a linguistic point 
of view. Portuguese, Hindi, Tamil, Norwegian, 
French, and Chinese were almost daily spoken 
in my court ; but when it came to Arabic, 
Kussian, Annamese, and Tonquinese, we were 
sometimes nonplussed. On one occasion, with 
great pride, the Inspector-General produced a 
Chinaman, who, he asserted, understood the 
Annamese language; but then Johnny couldn't 
talk English at all, so another Chinaman was 
found who said he understood our mother tongue, 
and the examination was conducted as follows : 
The magistrate asked a question in English ; 
Chinaman No. 1, having after some difficulty 
grasped the meaning of the words, says something 
in Chinese to Chinaman No. 2, who in his turn 
said something in an unknown tongue to the 
Annamese prisoners. After some delay, the 


Annamese, not apparently understanding very 
clearly what the Chinaman No. 2 says, mutter 
something, which Chinaman No. 2 repeats to 
Chinaman No. 1, who replies in English to the 
magistrate; but the answer sometimes bears no 
connection with the question, so the whole process 
has to be gone over again, not without some heat 
on the part of the magistrate, who has perhaps 
fifty cases waiting for trial, and the thermometer 
standing at 88 Fahr. in the shade, and the air 
strongly flavoured with bouquet d'Afrique. 

It is a curious thing how all nations seem to 
have a smell peculiar to themselves. If I were 
blindfolded and brought into contact with different 
men, I could tell their nationality by their odour. 
Hindoos smell of ghee and coconut oil; Portu- 
guese, of garlic ; Chinese, of opium ; aboriginal 
Indians have a peculiar sour smell ; and the black 
man exhales from his skin a powerful musky 
odour. But even these differ very much. We 
have had servants, pure black in colour, who had 
no scent at all ; others were almost unbearable. 
The Chinese make the same complaint about 
Europeans, and say that we all have a disagree- 
able smell like sheep. Certainly the smells in a 
ragged school in London on a rainy day are any- 
thing but agreeable. 

On another occasion four Kussians were 
brought before me on a charge of vagrancy. It 
was with difficulty we could find any one in the 
colony acquainted with their lingo, until it was 
discovered that a lady, the wife of one of the 


merchants in Georgetown, had resided in Eussia, 
and could converse in the Kussian tongue. On 
application to her, she kindly agreed to interpret 
for me. The tale these Russians told was almost 
incredible, as they asserted that they had come to 
the colony from inland, having found their way 
from the head of the Amazon Eiver, up the 
Eio Negro, and walked across country until they 
struck the waters of the Upper Demerara Eiver. 
A glance at the map of South America will show 
that such a journey was not impossible, but it 
was highly improbable, and I didn't believe it 

Executions are now managed in the colony so 
expeditiously and with such certainty, that it 
seems incredible such scenes as the following 
could have been enacted. At an execution at 
Suddie, in February, 1873, when the bolt was 
drawn the man dropped so that his feet touched 
the ground, and in that position the poor wretch 
writhed and struggled until he was raised up by 
some of the prisoners (present to witness the exe- 
cution as a moral object-lesson) high enough to 
allow Hamlet, the executioner, to take a few turns 
of the slack of the rope round a pin in the cross- 
beam of the gallows. This supplementary work 
done, the man was dropped again to hang until 
life was slowly choked out of him. In the con- 
fusion the cap dropped off his face, and the awful 
contortions of the exposed features during the 
death-struggle were utterly indescribable. When 
Hamlet was remonstrated with for his inhuman 


bungling, lie resented the interference, and re- 
marked that the man was dead all the same. 

In another case, a young man named Butler 
was hanged for shooting his employer, Mr. Austin, 
and in falling through the drop the knot of the 
rope partially gave way. His struggles were 
fearful to observe, and his agony appeared to be 
intense. " It's all right," said Hamlet ; but when 
the man's struggles ceased and life seemed to be 
extinct, the knot gave way, and Butler fell to the 
ground. He was still alive, and on being lifted up 
exclaimed, " Oh, my God!" They carried the 
wretched man up again on to the scaffold, and, 
with most mistaken kindness, gave him brandy, 
so that he became conscious, and exclaimed, 
"For God's sake, make haste and finish it." He 
was then hanged a second time this time, for- 
tunately, with effect. 

After these experiences Hamlet was dismissed 
and another hangman appointed in his place. I 
remember once being in a great fright. At 
Suddie, in Essequibo, a man lay in the gaol, under 
sentence of death, to be executed on a Saturday 
at 9 a.m. I had received the Governor's warrant, 
commanding me, " at my peril," to hang the 
wretched man at the time and place mentioned. 
The steamer arrived on Friday from town, but 
no executioner. I sent for Mr. Blackman, the 
keeper of the gaol, but he had heard nothing 
about him, so I was in a terrible fix. About 5p.m., 
a man walked up the steps of my gallery. I 
didn't recognize him, so I said, " Who are you ? " 


"I am Brown, the hangman," he replied. I 
jumped up, delighted. " Come along, my man ; " 
and I led the way straight off to the prison, 
Brown, who seemed rather tipsy, following me, 
till we were safe inside. "Now, Mr. Blackman," 
I said to the keeper, " here is Brown, and you 
don't let him out of this gaol until that man is 
safely and properly executed." Brown began to 
bluster and swear, but I said, " No ; you can have 
what you like to eat, and one pint of beer; but 
out of this gaol you don't go to-night. " I was 
determined that he should be sober in the morn- 
ing, which he was ; and, although he went about 
his work sulkily, he performed his repulsive task 
with his usual celerity. 




Moral education Filthy dwellings of the poor Corporation of Georgetown 
Want of benefactors Paul de Saffon Trotman Disapproval of 
criminals Its absence Bantus Immorality Concubinage Indus- 
trial schools Whipping Flogging as a deterrent A careless warder 
Jack in office A hopeless case Female obstinacy Burglary 
Blackman Betrayed by a woman An ingenious thief Death by 
lightning Curious results A jealous Mohammedan Mutilation A 
strange case Murder without a motive An injured damsel Her 
revenge The biter bit. 

WANT of education is one of the great factors in 
the manufacture of criminals ; and when I say 
education I don't mean teaching the three B's, of 
which there is too much already in the colony, but 
education in the sense of teaching the people 
decency, cleanliness, modesty, honesty, and thrift. 
It is impossible to expect respectable men and 
women to grow up out of the moral cesspools in 
which they are bred and reared. Let any one walk 
through the yards which lead out of Lower Kegent 
Street, Lombard Street, and Leopold Street in 
Georgetown, and let him ask himself how he could 
expect respectable, law-abiding citizens to be raised 

Eents in the city are very high, and there is a 


class of landlords who seem to think that their 
only duty is to wring out of their wretched tenants 
as much money as they can get, and yet that they 
have no obligations to meet in return. It is a 
common thing to find the rent of one wretched 
room, opening on to a yard full of slush and mud, 
undrained, permeated with foul odours, to be two 
dollars and a half (10s.) a month, or more. To 
meet this sum the tenant takes in as many people 
to lodge with her as she can get, who pay her 
perhaps a shilling a week each ; and so half a 
dozen people of both sexes and all ages sleep 
together in a place whose cubic capacity would 
hardly supply enough air for two adults. It is 
horrible to see, as I have seen, the dense popula- 
tion that exists in some of the yards I have 
mentioned. In such places, in such a manner of 
life, is it to be wondered at that all decency is 
openly disregarded ? that the most violent rows, 
the most filthy language are the daily pabulum of 
the inhabitants, both young and old ? 

Surely the Corporation of Georgetown, com- 
posed as it is of practical, clear-headed, and 
philanthropic men, should turn their attention 
to these foul cesspools, and insist that landlords 
should be compelled to make their yards and 
houses well-drained and habitable, and should 
prevent the over-crowding of houses by such regu- 
lations as are in force in the large towns in England. 
Surely some of our great planters and merchants 
who have made fortunes out of the colony might 
imitate, on a smaller scale, the noble Peabody, and 


erect some model lodging-houses for our poor 
people. Three men only, Paul de Saffon, Samuel 
Blandford Trotman, and William Mitchell, have 
left charitable bequests to their poorer brethren, 
and their names will to all time be accompanied 
by the blessings of the widow and fatherless. 

One great object of education is to make the 
public understand that all crime is detrimental to 
their interests as members of a social state, and to 
make them disapprovers of criminals. Public dis- 
approbation has a more deterrent effect in rooting 
out crime than any amount of legal punishment. 
If the people generally were distinctly hostile to 
offenders, it would assist justice immeasurably in 
catching and punishing criminals. " An enlight- 
ened people are a better auxiliary to a judge than 
an army of policemen." But, unfortunately, 
amongst the poorer classes public disapprobation 
of criminals, especially when they are thieves, can 
hardly be said to exist ; on the contrary, if the 
victims belong to the richer classes, more sympathy 
is shown than disapprobation. They consider 
property as a benefit in which they have no 
share, and that the rich are the natural prey of 
the poor, so that, instead of being an assistant to 
justice, the lower classes throw every obstacle in 
the way of the suppression of crime and the 
punishment of offenders. Even respectable people 
of the poorer classes, who would themselves shrink 
from theft, will at the same time screen one of 
their own order who is pursued by the officers of 
justice for an offence against property, rather than 


incur the opprobrium which, in their class, always 
attaches to the name of informer. 

The opinion of the masses is well expressed in 
a cartoon in the Argosy, where two women, talking 
together, say, " Ouw! she too wicked to tell pon 
de gal dat she tooket de money. But for she de 
por gal would not have gone to gaol." " It too 
distressin' ! De wicked woman should have kept 
she mout' shut, for de lady could well afford to 
lose de money." 

It is a pity that the coloured Creoles of the 
colony do not imitate their ancestors in Africa, 
for it is told of the Bantus that by their law every 
one accused of crime was held guilty until he could 
prove himself innocent. The head of a family was 
responsible for the conduct of all its branches ; the 
kraal collectively in the same manner for each 
resident in it ; and the clan for each of its sub- 

Thus, if the skin of a stolen ox was found in a 
kraal, or if the footmarks of the animal were traced 
to it, the whole of the residents were liable to be 
fined. There was no such thing as a man profess- 
ing ignorance of his neighbour's doings ; the law 
required him to know all about them, and it made 
him suffer for neglecting a duty which it held that 
he owed to the community. Every individual was 
not only in theory, but in practice a policeman. 
(See "The Portuguese in South Africa," by 

Crime and immorality go often hand in hand. 
Not that immoral persons, who break what are 


called the moral and social laws, are necessarily 
criminals, but the practice of immorality in its 
broadest sense has a tendency to weaken the 
mental discrimination between what is evil and 
what is good, and so disintegrates the moral fibre 
of a man's constitution, as to make him more 
susceptive of influences which tend to criminal 

It is obvious that the herding together of people 
of all ages and both sexes in ill- ventilated and badly 
drained rooms must tend to produce disease both 
of mind and body disease of body by inhaling foul 
air, by contagion, by want of sufficient breathing 
space, and other causes ; disease of mind, by con- 
tamination of the less depraved and younger people 
by the indecency and impurity both in words and 
actions of the older and more depraved. Similarly, 
the unhealthy lives of a nation or colony may 
equally tend to produce a low ideal of social life, 
which may weaken the moral fibre of its people to 
the results above mentioned. 

The marriage laws of the colony are, as I have 
said before, of such a nature as to put a premium 
upon vice and concubinage, and to throw every 
obstacle in the way of early and virtuous connec- 
tions between the sexes. The old Eoman Dutch 
law, which enables parties that have lived together 
in concubinage for years to marry and at the same 
time legitimate their children, so as to place them 
in the same position legally as children born after 
marriage, has been most fatal in its results upon 
female chastity. Very little disgrace attaches to 


a woman who lives with one man in recognized 
concubinage, so long as the man is sole and un- 
married, and able at any time to consummate their 
nuptials. But it is a matter of common observa- 
tion that where the few maintain this relationship, 
which, if rigidly kept, is certainly not the most 
disgraceful life, intact, too frequently infidelity on 
the one side leads to jealousy and subsequent in- 
fidelity on the other ; illicit polyandry succeeds to 
the previous concubinage, and from polyandry to 
prostitution is, under our institutions, a step more 
distinguishable in name than in reality. 

An attempt has been made to check the in- 
crease of crime by the reformation of juvenile 
criminals. The Industrial School at Onderneeming 
has been opened since 1879, and has certainly 
been, in one way, a great success ; but I very 
much doubt whether, in many instances, the boys 
are trained from crime. Too frequently we find 
them falling back into their old courses, mingling 
with their old associates, and entering into a bolder 
and more reckless career of vice and crime, ending 
too often in a convict cell at Massaruni. Where 
numbers of bad boys are brought together, they 
mutually contaminate each other. The morale of 
the school is very low, and although everything 
is done to teach the boys decency, industry, and 
morality, very few, I fear, practise them when 
away from their master's eye. 

The girls' reformatory which has been estab- 
lished offers still greater difficulties than the other. 
Amongst the abandoned young women who form 


its inmates it would seem impossible to hope that 
any blossom of purity or industry could survive. 
At the most we may hope that the matron may be 
able in time to inculcate some degree of self-con- 
trol ; to make the girls more outwardly decent 
in word and gesture ; to train them to habits of 
industry and cleanliness, and teach them to sew and 
wash, so that when they are discharged they will be 
able to gain an honest livelihood, without sinking 
back into the infamy from which they were rescued. 
It is a great misfortune that our officials in 
high places have such a strong objection to whip- 
ping as a punishment; there is nothing more 
effective, nothing cheaper. From all time a man's 
skin has been his most treasured possession. Job 
lost children and wealth with comparative patience, 
but Satan, knowing human nature, said to God, 
" Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath, will he 
give for his life ; " and when poor Job was smitten 
with sore boils all over his skin, he cursed the 
day of his birth. There is nothing that has such 
terrors for both black and East Indian people as 
the cat-o'-nine-tails. I know of my own know- 
ledge that criminals regard a sentence of penal 
servitude with indifference, who cringe with terror 
at the thought of the cat, especially if the flogging 
were ordered to take place in public on the estate 
where the crime was committed. But the philan- 
thropists say, " It is so degrading. 77 How can one 
degrade an habitual thief or burglar, a murderous 
garroter, a woman-chopper ? It is not any degra- 
dation he feels when under the lash ; it is the pain 


the keen whipcord cutting into his flesh and 
making him yell with agony it is that which he 
dreads. But he, for his part, never thought of the 
pain which he inflicted on the unfortunate old 
man whom he had garroted, or the delicate woman 
whom he hacked all over with his sharp cutlass. 
Brutes should be treated as brutes, and the whip 
is the only argument that appeals to their feelings. 

Flogging is a punishment only to be inflicted 
for serious offences, but it has a wonderful effect 
in diminishing crime. I will give two examples, 
which are well known to all old colonists. The 
plantain, or banana, as it is called in the islands, 
is the staple food of the colony. The people 
always plant it in preference to any other vegetable, 
and the failure of the crop from any cause is a 
serious matter for the whole population. At one 
time a number of idle, dissolute men, who were 
too lazy to work for themselves, used to prowl 
around the plantain walks and rob their more in- 
dustrious brethren. This became such a nuisance 
that the poor farmers refused to plant any more 
plantains for others to eat ; so a serious scarcity of 
provisions might have been the result. To prevent, 
if possible, such a contingency, an ordinance was 
passed through the local Parliament, authorizing 
the magistrates to sentence any men found steal- 
ing plantains to be flogged on the scene of their 

This law was carried out by the magistrates, 
and plantain-stealing in a year or so became an 
extinct crime. 


Again, it was an evil custom of many of the 
negroes, especially Barbadians, when they fre- 
quented the races and other crowded meetings, to 
carry razors, which they doubled back, and with 
which, almost concealed in their clenched hands, 
they used to wipe, as they called it, any one with 
whom they might have a quarrel. These wipes 
were inflicted with such rapidity, and the razors 
were so sharp, that the unfortunate victim was 
often unaware that he had received any injury, 
until he saw himself bleeding, and found that he 
had been severely cut. These cowardly and brutal 
assaults became so common that the judges of the 
Supreme Court determined to flog any man who 
was convicted of using the razor in the way de- 
scribed. This wholesome severity stamped out 
the crime in a short time, and for years the races 
were held without a single case of razor-cutting 
being brought before the magistrate. 

Necessary though it may be, flogging is not a 
pleasant spectacle. I remember on one occasion 
a notorious vagabond was being flogged in Suddie 
Gaol. The warder who wielded the cat was laying 
it on with vigour and science ; the wretched man 
on the triangles writhed and groaned, and shouted 
and swore. After the full complement had been 
administered, the warders were ordered to take 
the man down from the triangles ; but proceeding 
in a careless and unbusiness-like manner, they 
loosened one of his hands without securing it 
behind him. Maddened with pain and rage, the 
convict, as soon as he found his hand free, struck 


straight at a warder with his clenched fist, and 
felled him to the ground, and it took several men 
to overpower him, put him in irons, and remove 
him to his cell. The warder who was knocked 
down lodged a complaint against the prisoner for 
assaulting him in the execution of his duty; but 
I refused to entertain it, and told the warder that 
he was rightly punished for his carelessness. 

On one occasion, when the Inspector-General 
of Police was responsible for carrying out the 
sentences of flogging, it happened that three men 
were to be flogged in different parts of the colony 
some distance apart, on the same day. 

The senior inspector, w r ho was deputed to look 
after the execution of the sentence, was somewhat 
perplexed, as his two professional floggers were 
engaged, and a third was required at an estate 
some eight miles from town across the river. 
Driving down Water Street towards the ferry, the 
inspector saw a stout white sailor rolling along 
the pavement, so, stopping his waggon, he hailed 
him and said, " My man, do you want to earn five 
dollars?*' " Aye, aye, sir." "Then jump up 
behind my waggon." The man obeyed. When 
they arrived at the ferry, the sailor asked the 
inspector, " Sir, what do you want me to do? 7 ' 
" Never you mind," said the inspector, " you come 
with me." They crossed the river in the steamer, 
and drove up the west bank to Toevlugt Police 
Station, where they found the police guard drawn 
up, the triangles in position, and the prisoner 
ready to be strapped. " Now, my man," said the 


inspector to the sailor, " I want you to flog this 
man, and I will give you five dollars." " Oh, is 
that all ? " said Jack ; " then I'm your man," as he 
took off his coat, and spat on his hands. The 
prisoner was strapped up, and Jack gave him 
three dozen in a good man-o'-war's style ; in fact, 
as the inspector told me, he never saw a man 
better flogged in his life. The sailor was taken 
back to town, and was presented with his five 
dollars. " Thank ye, sir," said he. " What, five 
dollars for licking a nigger ? Why, I'd have done 
it for nothing." And all the time he remained in 
the port this man was looking out for the inspector, 
touching his cap and saying, " Any more jobs for 
me this morning, sir ? " 

The cat cannot be safely used on the backs of 
many of the East Indians, as they are often very 
thin and their spleens much enlarged, so that a 
blow with a heavy instrument might rupture the 
spleen and cause immediate death. I was once 
in despair how to manage a man in Suddie prison, 
who defied all my efforts to make him obey the 
prison rules. He was a delicate Hindoo, and 
the surgeon would not allow the man to be 
flogged, nor placed on bread and water, nor shut 
up in a dark cell ; so, taking advantage of this 
immunity from punishment, the man defied the 
authorities, and we could do nothing with him. 
At last I hit upon an idea ; and I told the keeper 
of the gaol to have made a harlequin suit of red 
and yellow, the legs and arms of alternate colours 
and the body in four squares of red and yellow. 


When the prison gang went out to work, the man 
was clothed in the suit, and sent out with the 
others. His appearance created a sensation in 
the village ; all the children ran alongside the 
gang crying out, " What this man do ? He too bad 
man for true ! Hi ! look at he coat ! " Every one 
pointed and laughed at him as he passed, and his 
fellow prisoners jeered at him. This ridicule and 
jeering was more than the poor man could endure ; 
so a few days afterwards, when I was visiting the 
prison, he fell upon his face at my feet and 
implored me to remove the coloured suit, which 
I agreed to do on his promising amendment in 
his conduct. He promised, and kept his word ; 
but this did not prevent him from lodging a 
complaint against me before the Governor, when 
His Excellency inspected the prison some weeks 
afterwards. However, on hearing all the facts of 
the case, His Excellency told him that he was 
glad that the Sheriff had found a means of sub- 
duing his mind without injuring his body. 

On another occasion a female prisoner at 
Suddie gave me much trouble. She always 
amused herself by tearing up her prison clothes, 
and dancing a sort of can-can in puris naturalibus. 
Twice she did this, and twice new clothes were 
given to her. Bread and water and dark cell had 
no effect upon her. The matron was in despair, 
so I told her that, if the woman tore up her clothes 
again, she was to be left in her cell without any. 
Soon afterwards our friend broke out again, tore 
up her clothes, yelled and danced in her cell till 


she was tired. Next morning no notice was taken 
of her, food was brought as usual, and the rags 
removed, and she was left in her cell naked. The 
weather happened to be rather cold and wet for 
Essequibo, so she soon began to howl; but she 
was left thirty-six hours without clothes, and they 
were only given to her on her imploring for them, 
and with a notification that, if she tore up those, 
no more would be forthcoming. She never tore 
up any more. 

Epidemics of burglary break out in Georgetown 
at different times. It is generally discovered that 
all the crimes are committed by two or three men, 
usually ex-convicts, and when these are caught 
the burglaries cease. 

In the year 1887 the city was disturbed by a 
series of daring and clever burglaries ; every night 
some house was entered, and valuable property 
removed. The thieves were cool hands, as they 
generally regaled themselves with wine, and spirits, 
and any cold meat which they discovered. The 
police inspectors were entirely baffled the police- 
men were some of them in league with the crimi- 
nals. One of the most notorious of the burglars 
was Charles Blackman, who had recently returned 
from Her Majesty's Penal Settlement on the 
Massaruni River. He was an intelligent, quick, 
strong Barbadian, who, for a long time, defied all 
the efforts of the police inspectors for his capture. 
He might never have been caught, but he shared 
the fate of Jack Sheppard, Dick Turpin, and many 
other notorious criminals, and was betrayed by a 


woman. He lived with a woman named Hester 
Nightingale, and when Inspector Wright, who was 
then at the head of the detective department, 
discovered the fact, he immediately took steps to 
bribe the woman to betray her companion. 

At first she was impracticable, gave false in- 
formation, or warned Blackman of his danger. 

One day she told Wright that Blackman was 
going out at 1 a.m. on a particular night to commit 
a burglary, and that he would return about an 
hour afterwards with the swag. Wright and a 
sergeant of detectives stole quietly into the bar- 
rack where Blackman lived, soon after 1 a.m., and 
sat down to wait the return of the convict. 

They sat for hours ; no one came. At 5 
o'clock, tired of waiting, they sallied out, and, as 
Wright was lighting his pipe on the doorstep, 
Blackman put his head out of a window above him, 
and called out, " Morning, Wright ! How d'ye? 
Hope you have had a pleasant time." A few days 
afterwards I met him in front of the Georgetown 
Club. He stopped me, and said, " Now, Sheriff, 
how can a man lead an honest life ? Look here ! n 

pointing up Main Street, " there's one bl y 

policeman watching me; and there" pointing 

down High Street " is another bl y policeman 

watching me; they are at it all day and night." 
I asked him why he didn't go to the gold diggings. 
" How can I go to the gold diggings when I have 
no money to pay my passage?" "Well, Black- 
man," I said, "I will give you a chance. If I 
give you money and pay your way to Bartica, will 



you go ? " " So 'elp me God, Sheriff, I will go." 
So I foolishly gave him half a crown. Two nights 
afterwards my own house was burgled by two men 
Blackman and another, I believe ; and if it had 
not been for my little dog Lion they would have 
cleaned me out. At last an increased bribe bought 
over Hester Nightingale ; she gave true informa- 
tion, and Blackman was caught after a daring and 
successful burglary at Hugh Sproston's house. 
When Mr. Wright interviewed him, and amongst 
other things told him that he had also broken into 
the Sheriff's house, he replied, " No, Mr. Wright ; 
I respect the Sheriff too much. I wouldn't do 
such a thing." But I believe he did, all the 

I was burgled three times during my residence 
in the colony : twice in Georgetown, and once at 
Zorg in Essequibo. In no case were the thieves 
detected, nor the property recovered. 

I once tried a man at Capoey court, in Esse- 
quibo, for an ingenious form of larceny. We all 
know the American yarn about chicken thieves, 
how the black man could not account for the 
chickens found in his hat, and " guessed they 
crawled up his leg." My friend at Capoey was a 
Hindoo, who was the proud possessor of a fine 
game-cock, so his modus operandi was as follows. 
Having armed his fowl with sharp steel spurs, he 
proceeded to a Creole village, and, squatting down 
in a bush near the cottages, he tied the game-cock 
to a stake by a piece of string, and then retired a 
little way to await results. Left to himself, the 


gamecock began to crow lustily. The cocks be- 
longing to the village, hearing a strange challenge, 
pricked up their ears, and the nearest one immedi- 
ately rushed off to expel the insolent intruder. In 
the contest that ensued the unarmed bird was 
quickly slain by his better provided antagonist. 
In this way two or three cocks were killed, whose 
bodies were carefully placed in a bag by the wily 
Hindoo, who, picking up his bird, proceeded to 
other hunting-grounds. A dozen or more fowls 
would be obtained in this way in a single day, and 
it was some time before the thief was detected. 

I have noticed some very curious results from 
the effects of lightning. Two coolies working on 
Plantation Farm were killed by lightning, and 
when the post-mortem was held, it was found that 
their blood was still fluid, although the men had 
been dead for some hours. Another East Indian 
labourer was killed in the same way, and when, as- 
coroner, I viewed the body, I found that the steel 
prongs of the fork, which the man had been work- 
ing with at the time, had burnt corresponding 
marks across his abdomen. A thunderstorm burst 
over Georgetown. In one of the yards of the city 
a woman was standing at the door of her house 
with a baby in her arms, and a^little girl holding 
on to her dress. A flash of lightning felled them 
to the ground, killing the woman and the girl ; but 
the baby, although stunned, eventually recovered. 
The same shock started the iron bands round a 
large water-vat in the same yard, driving them all 
an inch upwards, so that all the water escaped out 


of the vat. I have seen men killed by the electric 
fluid show no mark at all on their bodies ; the 
clothes of others are torn to rags, and all the hair 
burnt off their bodies. 

In a former chapter I have described the muti- 
lation of his wife by an East Indian, who cut off 
her arm and threw it in her face. A somewhat 
similar offence was committed by another Moham- 
medan at Aurora, whom. I tried at the Supreme 
Criminal Court at Suddie, in February, 1895. It 
is a common practice for Mohammedan husbands 
who are jealous of their wives to mutilate them by 
cutting off their hands, breasts, or noses. Bood- 
,jdrudin, the man in question, was a new immigrant, 
'having arrived, together with his wife, Nijibun 
Nisa, about six months previously. They seem to 
have lived amicably together, with only the usual 
Jbickerings not uncommon amongst married couples, 
.until, one night, for no apparent reason, Booddrudin 
mutilated his wife in a most brutal fashion. 

At the trial, the victim related her woes in 
a most matter-of-fact manner. After describing 
her life with the accused for some weeks, she 
stated that one Wednesday she went to work as 
usual, and returned to her home about 6 p.m. 
" Accused," she said, "told me to fetch my 
rations. I didn't do so. Mooteeram brought my 
rations. I saw -my husband in the house. I met 
him there. I gave him something to eat we 
were quite happy together. I went to bed at 
8 p.m., the accused came to bed in the same room, 
in separate cots. There was no quarrel between 


us. I went to sleep. The next thing I remember, 
about 12 o'clock, I was awakened. I found my 
husband sitting on my chest, and he takes my 
hands and puts them under my legs; and held 
them firm with his legs ; he then held my nose 
with his left hand, and with his right hand he cut 
off my nose it was very painful with his cutlass. 
I felt pain, I began to cry out to Mooteeram, who 
lives with his wife in the next room, ' This man 
killing me ! ' Mooteeram called assistance, broke 
open the door of Booddrudin's room, and had him 
arrested. When the constable asked Booddrudin 
what had become of his wife's nose, he replied, 
" I cut it off and threw it into the bush, for in this 
country the doctor can put back the nose." The 
medical officer for the district deposed that the 
nose of the unfortunate woman had been completely 
cut off, and that she would be disfigured for life. 
It is also a great disgrace for a Mohammedan 
woman to be so treated, as it marks her for life 
as an adulteress. The prisoner made no defence, 
and, on conviction, I sentenced him to four years* 
penal servitude, and twenty lashes with a cat, 
which I think he richly deserved. 

Sometimes a murder is committed for which 
it seems impossible to find a motive, neither from 
revenge, jealousy, nor any other apparent cause. 
A man named Chotki was tried before me in 
Georgetown for the murder of one coolie boy, and 
the attempted murder of another. These boys 
had been on the most friendly terms with the 
accused, and no motive could be suggested for his 


actions ; yet lie went with the boys to the waterside 
to collect firewood, and there attacked them most 
brutally with a cutlass, killing one and severely 
wounding the other. The smaller boy, Earnlall, who 
escaped death, gave a graphic account of the scene. 

" We went together to gather wood. When we 
had finished packing wood, prisoner came up with 
a piece of wood which he had cut, and he put it 
on the top of the bundle. He told us to tie the 
bundle : myself and my brother were tying the 
bundle. We had finished tying the bundle, and 
were looking for more wood ; when we had finished, 
he told us to tie that. As we were doing so, he 
fired a blow with his cutlass at me. The blow got 
me on my left hand. I lift up my hand to ward 
off the blow : it got me there. Prisoner said 
nothing. I said nothing. We had no quarrel 
we didn't abuse him. When I got the cut, I 
started running to the dam. As I started to run, 
the prisoner gave me another cut in my back with 
the cutlass. My brother started off to run into 
the bush. Chotki ran after my brother caught 
him, and cut him, and killed him. I saw him 
holding my brother. I heard my brother holler 
out after Chotki held him. He called out, ' Oh, 
my brother ! Oh, my brother ! ' " 

The dead body of the slain boy Soomaliah was 
found in the dam. He was only fourteen years old; 
Eamlall was about eleven. The wretched Chotki 
went to Vigilance, the nearest police-station, and 
gave himself up to the sentry, telling him, " I have 
killed one boy." " He seemed," the sentry said 


in his evidence, " quite sober, but melancholy ; 
and said he must do what is written." 

When he was taken and shown the body of 
his victim he wept. The whole matter was 

Women will sometimes go any lengths to 
avenge themselves on a man who has slighted 
them. Quid non furens fcemina possit ? But in 
one case in my recollection a woman over- 
reached herself in her intended vengeance, and 
brought condign punishment upon her own head. 

There was a man, whom we will call Sellmore, 
living in Georgetown, who was a notorious 
scoundrel, always fighting, assaulting peaceable 
citizens a sort of bravo, hired by cowards to 
chastise their enemies. This man had, of course, 
divers amours, and one of his deserted ladies 
vowed vengeance against him. One day a police- 
constable was attracted by cries of " Murder!" 
and, running to the spot from whence the sounds 
proceeded, he found Sellmore in Brickdam Street, 
struggling to get away from a woman, who had 
her arms tight round his neck, and screaming 
" Murder ! murder ! " at the top of her voice. 
The woman was bleeding from a severe scalp 
wound, and her face and the front of her dress were 
covered with fresh blood. The police-constable 
arrested them both, and took them to the Central 
Police Station, where the woman charged the man 
Sellmore with assaulting and wounding her. 

The next day Sellmore was brought before me. 
He protested his innocence, and swore that he 


had never touched the woman, that she rushed 
out of a yard with her head cut, seized hold of 
him, and began to yell " Murder! 7 ' Knowing 
his character, I was not disposed to believe this 
story; but something in the man's manner 
arrested my attention, and I remanded him for 
a week. Some other facts leaked out, which 
justified me in a further remand, by which time 
the police had detected the real facts of the case. 

It was proved by the clearest evidence that 
this woman had conspired with another woman 
to get Sellmore into trouble. Living in a yard in 
Brickdam Street, down which he always passed 
in the morning, they waited one day till he came 
in sight, the accomplice with an empty brandy- 
bottle in her hand. "Now strike me ! " said the 
slighted one, and her friend gave her a violent 
crack over the head with the bottle, which, as 
it broke, inflicted a severe scalp wound, much 
severer than the recipient bargained for. With 
the blood streaming from the wound dyeing her 
face and clothes, she rushed into the street, 
threw her arms round the astonished Sellmore, 
and yelled " Murder ! murder ! " at the top of 
her voice. Naturally, the man tried to throw her 
off, and, in the struggle, was arrested by the 
police. These facts were clearly proved by eye- 
witnesses, so Sellmore was discharged, and I 
committed his quondam friend and her accomplice 
to the Supreme Court, where they were convicted 
of wilful and corrupt perjury, and sent to prison 
for twelve months each. 

( 329 ) 


Bishop Austin Consecration of new cathedral His farewell address 
Climate of British Guiana Educational difficulties Curse of tropical 
service Planters' troubles Fall in price of sugar Bounty-fed beet 
The immigration system The East Indian at home Change for 
the better His position in Demerara Magistrates' Courts Oriental 
imagery Famine in India Plenty in British Guiana Malingerers 
A paradise for the poor Village communitiesColonial peasantry 
Gold industry Diamonds How to make British Guiana prosperous. 

OF all the personages with whom I was brought 
in contact during my residence in British Guiana, 
none excited my admiration and affection so much 
as the late Lord Bishop of Guiana, William Piercy 
Austin. I had the good fortune to carry letters 
of introduction to him when I first went to the 
colony, and he was always my greatest and most 
respected friend until his death in 1892. 

The future bishop was born at a small inn 
in Stone, Staffordshire, on the 7th of November, 
1807. He was a son of the Honourable William 
Austin, of Plantation Land of Plenty, in Essequibo, 
and in his youth spent some years in the colony. 
He was educated at Hyde Abbey School, near 
Winchester, from whence he proceeded to Exeter 
College, Oxford. When at Oxford he was a " wet 
bob," and formed that interest in rowing which 


he always maintained throughout his life. (One 
of his sons, W. G. G. Austin, of Magdalen College, 
Oxford, rowed in the 'Varsity race at Putney.) 
He took his degree in 1830, was ordained deacon 
in 1831, and admitted to the priesthood by the 
Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1833. Visiting his 
paternal estates in Guiana, he was persuaded hy 
Bishop Coleridge, of Barbados, to throw in his 
lot with the colony, and he accepted the position 
of Kural Dean of Essequibo, a post in which he 
was succeeded by his cousin, the Rev. William 
Austin, who remained there as dean during nearly 
the whole of his cousin's episcopate. 

In 1837 he was made Archdeacon of Demerara, 
and when the colony of British Guiana was, for 
ecclesiastical purposes, separated from Barbados, 
he was selected as the first bishop of the new see. 
Bishop Austin was consecrated in Westminster 
Abbey in 1842, before he was thirty-five years of 
age ; and it is recorded that when he kissed hands 
on his appointment, the Queen declared that he 
was the youngest and handsomest bishop in her 
dominions. He was, indeed, a splendid man, 
standing six feet two inches in his stockings, with 
broad shoulders, surmounted by a noble head. 
Without being strictly handsome, he had a fine 
face, with an amiable expression and a bright 
smile. Devoted to all manly exercises, a practised 
swimmer and a fine oar, the bishop was a model 
for a colonial prelate. For fifty years he ruled 
over the Church in Guiana with firmness, tact, 
and good temper. He had no extreme opinions, 


tolerated all varieties of ritual amongst his clergy, 
so long as he found them earnest, hard-working 
men. He himself set an example to his people. 
Several months in every year were spent in most 
arduous and wearisome journeys up the vast rivers 
and forests of the interior. Nothing daunted him. 
Camping out night after night in the damp bush, 
shooting dangerous rapids, spending interminable 
hours with his long legs cramped up in Indian 
canoes, were mere pastimes to him. He was 
always in robust health, in excellent spirits, loving 
his work, loved and respected by all men. 

He seldom left his diocese ; but he attended 
two Pan-Anglican Synods in England, where he 
was treated with marked respect by the arch- 
bishops and bishops of the Anglican Church. 
When the West Indies and Guiana were made, 
in 1888, into a Provincial Synod, he was chosen 
as their Primate ; and when he visited England, 
in 1888, at his second Pan- Anglican Synod, the 
University of Cambridge honoured him and them- 
selves by creating him an LL.D. of the Uni- 
versity, on which occasion the Public Orator 
described him as the " Nestor of the English 
Church." A year later the Queen appointed him 
to be Prelate of the most distinguished Order of 
St. Michael and St. George. In August, 1892, 
we celebrated in the colony the bishop's jubilee. 
The new cathedral was approaching its comple- 
tion, and the venerable prelate, who was then in 
failing health, was anxious to open it before he 
obtained the rest which he had so nobly earned. 


It was a most touching sight when, the first part 
of the service being over, the venerable bishop 
was seen entering the western door of the 
cathedral, in full canonicals, with the collar of his 
order round his neck, and leaning on his son, the 
Eev. W. G. G-. Austin, and his chaplain, the Eev. 
Walter Heard, who supported his arms as he 
came slowly up the aisle. "When the vast con- 
gregation saw their venerable father in God, sobs 
burst forth on all sides, tears were rolling down 
the cheeks of most of the people, and many of the 
black women wept aloud. 

Slowly, and with great difficulty, the bishop 
reached his episcopal chair, placed on a dais in 
the middle of the church, his medical attendant 
taking his place behind, while the chaplain held 
the pastoral staff by his side, and then the Rev. 
W. G. Austin read his father's sermon, which he 
was unable to deliver himself a most touching 
address. " Little children, love one another," 
was the text ; and as the loving words which he 
addressed to us were being read, it seemed to us 
all as if we were indeed listening to the words 
of the disciple whom Jesus loved, and that the 
venerable figure before us was indeed one of the 
Apostles of old come again in the flesh. The 
short sermon was ended, and then the bishop, 
assisted out of his chair and supported on either 
side as before, grasped his pastoral staff in one 
hand, and raising the other into the air, blessed 
us all. In trembling tones, but using up the last 
forces of nature left to him, quite audible through 


the great building, he poured forth the solemn 
words of the Liturgy ; and if ever blessing can 
come to men from mortal lips, it came upon us 
all that day. As he ended there was a dead still- 
ness, broken only by the stifled sobs of the con- 
gregation, which could not be stifled when their 
venerable father in God was slowly removed from 
them. It was his last effort such an effort as 
only a man of his invincible courage could have 
made. After considerable suffering, borne with 
his usual cheerfulness, he died on the 9th of 
November, 1892, aged 85. 

I was told by a well-known M.F.H. in Here- 
fordshire that it was impossible for any white man 
to live for a year in British Guiana ; and he 
seemed to consider me a proper liar when I said 
that I had lived there on and off for twenty-five 

But, like many other places, the colony has 
been more sinned against than sinning; and life 
there is pleasant enough, and not unhealthy, if 
proper precautions are taken. It is a curious fact 
that fair-complexioned men, especially those whose 
hair is of a well, auburn hue, run less risks in 
hot malarial climates than those of dark com- 
plexion ; possibly because the latter are more 
bilious in temperament. Although flat and ugly 
on the coast-line, the country is full of variety ; 
and the great diversity of people, differentiating 
so largely both in race, colour, and dress, adds 
considerably to the picturesque effect of the land- 
scape and to the interest of our surroundings. 


The great curse of all tropical countries to 
civil servants and soldiers is the necessary sepa- 
ration between husbands and wives, parents and 
children. Men naturally wish that their offspring 
should enjoy the same advantages as themselves, 
so public schools and colleges in the old country 
absorb their children; and as it is thought de- 
sirable that the youngsters should have a home 
to go to during their holidays, their mother is 
established at home, while the bread-winner is left 
alone in the tropics. This separation has a bad 
effect; parents and children become strangers to 
each other, wives and husbands form separate 
friendships and acquaintances, and diverse tastes 
and occupations, and the effects are sometimes 

Has ifc ever struck my readers how many cases 
in the Divorce Court arise from these separations ? 
In my own case, I never set eyes on one of my boys 
for nine years, and on another for five, and from my 
wife I was separated at one time for more than three 
and a half years. Of course, in Demerara it is 
possible for girls to be fairly educated, and also 
boys, up to seventeen years of age, when, if they 
intend to enter one of the learned professions, they 
must go to Europe to obtain the necessary in- 
structions and pass the required examinations. 

On the whole, although glad to return to my 
native country, I had many regrets in leaving 
Demerara ; the more so as I left the colony when 
it was under a cloud. No more energetic planters 
and merchants are to be found in the whole world 


than in British Guiana. By immense and con- 
tinued expenditure in labour-saving machinery, 
and by the strictest economy, the cost of making 
a ton of crystallized sugar has been reduced in 
my time from $100 to about $48; but the prices 
have fallen more rapidly, and the same crystals 
which were selling in 1872 at 37s. 6d. a hundred- 
weight now only realize 145. 6d. to 15s. There is 
only one remedy which can be of any use, i.e. a 
small duty levied in England upon all the bounty- 
fed beet sugar which pours into these islands from 
the continent. This has been recommended by 
General Sir H. Norman, G.C.B., who was chair- 
man of the late Commission of Inquiry in the West 
Indies ; but it is very doubtful whether any English 
statesman will be able to persuade Parliament to 
sanction such an impost. 

It is not for me to enter into any political 
questions, but I must make my protest against the 
statements promulgated by some Kadical poli- 
ticians with regard to the East Indian immigrant 
in British Guiana and Trinidad. There can be no 
doubt that the change of scene is as much a benefit 
to the Indian himself as to the planter for whom 
he works. 

The Indian peasant in his native village, over- 
burdened with debt, his small dwelling seized by 
a usurious money-lender in payment of a loan 
originally small, but swollen by compound interest 
to ten times its original value, his cattle brought 
to the hammer, and his household goods threatened 
with dispersal, the dishonour of his wife and 


daughters being exacted as the last thing he has 
to offer to his exorbitant creditor, affords, indeed, 
a miserable spectacle to our view. Disheartened, 
hopeless, ready to murder the money-lender, he 
hears, as he smokes his hubble-bubble under the 
village tree in the cool of the evening, of a land in 
the far west, where labourers are scarce, so that 
the working man can earn silver in plenty, and 
become rich and independent ; perhaps he meets 
one of his acquaintances, whom he has lost sight 
of for many years, but who has now returned with 
two 'or three thousand rupees, which he has earned 
in that same distant land; so our poor peasant 
packs up in a bundle his few remaining possessions, 
takes his wife and children to the nearest emigra- 
tion depot, and offers himself as a passenger for 
one of our West Indian colonies. After an ex- 
amination by a native doctor, he is taken before a 
magistrate, when the terms of his contract of 
service are explained to him, after which he is 
forwarded to the head depot at Calcutta. Here 
he is placed in comfortable quarters and well fed 
till the next ship is ready to sail ; and at last finds 
himself, with his wife and children, afloat on the 
great ocean, in the ship w r hich is to bear them to 
their new home. 

After his first troubles are over he feels quite 
at home on board. He is surrounded by four or 
five hundred men and women of the same caste as 
himself; some from his own village, many from 
his neighbourhood. The ship is clean, airy, and 
comfortable. An experienced doctor examines the 


whole living freight day by day. The provisions 
are good and wholesome, and cooked by men of 
his own or a higher caste. Strict discipline is 
maintained on board, but singing, dancing, and 
smoking are allowed at certain hours. So the 
weary days slip away until the good ship drops 
her anchor in the muddy waters of the Demerara 

Our peasant, his wife and children are landed 
at the immigration depot, registered on the books, 
and the whole family allotted to some plantation, 
to which they are conveyed as soon as possible. 

What is the position of the Bengal immigrant 
when he arrives at his new quarters ? In the 
first place, he is not amongst strangers ; he finds 
himself surrounded by hundreds of his own country- 
men ; he hears his own familiar tongue spoken all 
round him. Maybe he is suddenly welcomed by 
some old acquaintance whom he has not seen for 
years, and the first night is spent in anxious 
questions and reassuring answers as to the state 
of relations and friends in their distant home. 
Novelties there are but few. The new arrivals 
are mustered every morning to receive their 
rations rice, ghee, dholl forming their staple food, 
as in Bengal. A clean dry room is given to each 
family, in which they unpack the few treasures 
brought over the sea the shining brass lotah, the 
brown hubble-bubble, with its well-polished coco- 
nut bowl, and their small bundle of clothes. 

The new-comers are all put to light work, and 
are provided with a hoe, fork, and cutlass. The 



females are sent out, under a female driver, to 
weed the young canes, or, if the mills are working, 
to carry megass from the logies to the furnaces. 
The immigrants are only required to work seven 
hours in the fields in each day, the remainder of 
the twenty-four "being at their own disposal. To 
sum up the position of the Indian peasant in his 
new home in British Guiana he has a house, free 
of rent ; medical attendance and medicine gratis 
for himself and family when sick ; food cheap 
rice, the staff of his life, can be purchased by the 
bag at three cents a pound ; a moderate amount 
of work, for which he is paid fair wages at the 
current rates ; and the small amount of fuel 
required to cook his food he is allowed to cut 
at the back of the estate. There is no cold 
season, so clothes are only worn as ornaments. 
A loin-cloth is generally the only dress of the 
working coolie. As to wages, he can easily earn 
from six to eight shillings a week, and, with his 
wife five shillings, and his children two shillings 
each say fifteen shillings a week, one week with 
another out of this sum he can easily save five 
shillings a week, which he can deposit in the 
Government Savings Bank, and on which he 
receives 3 per cent, interest; so that when he 
has finished his five years under indenture, he 
should be worth more than $200. 

Of course, it is not pretended that this is the 
case except in the minority of instances, but that 
is not the fault of the system, but of the men 
themselves. Eum is cheap, and the Hindoos and 


Madrasees, who in their own country are the 
soberest of men, become in too many instances 
infected with the love of strong drink, and may 
be seen on Saturday nights and Sundays reeling 
about and yelling in drunken fury, or lying like 
logs by the roadside in a drunken stupor. But, 
sad as it may be to see the amount of drunkenness 
amongst the immigrants, it is at least a proof 
that they have an excess of money beyond their 
actual wants to enable them to indulge in such 
debaucheries, as rum costs two shillings and beer 
one shilling a quart bottle. 

In his own country, the Indian peasant is 
sober of necessity, and as to food, he only enjoys 
one meal a day, and his drink is the nearest 
puddle. If an immigrant be strong, sober, and 
industrious, there is no limit to the prosperity to 
which he may attain. 

Many coolies in Demerara and Trinidad, who 
landed with nothing but the cloth about their 
loins, are now wealthy men, with hundreds of 
dollars in the savings banks, herds of cattle, 
provision and rum shops, the stock of which are 
worth from $500 to $2000. On festal days the 
wives and daughters of these whilom labourers 
appear laden with gold and silver jewelry ; they 
drive through Georgetown and Port of Spain in 
cabs, they keep livery stables, and even own race- 

Of course, East Indians are not different from 
other immigrants. Sober and industrious men 
prosper in a wonderful way; lazy, intemperate 


ones fall into the usual dissolute habits of their 
class, and never do any good. But there is nothing 
repressive in the colony; every man or woman 
who goes there has an equal chance of improve- 
ment, unless disabled by sickness, or physically 
incapable of exertion. That the climate is well 
suited to East Indians is shown by the fine 
healthy appearance of the Creole coolies ; the men 
are stronger and the women fairer than their 
parents from India. In fact, a fine race of people 
is springing up in the country, the offspring of 
the immigrants, who may, it is hoped, in time 
form the principal resident population, and 
put an end to the present expensive system of 

It may be said that this is all written en 
coleur de rose, that if any system were perfect, 
and if men were angels, that the state of the 
immigrant might be perfection; but that the 
system in effect breaks down; that the planters 
are tyrannical and unjust ; the magistrates corrupt 
and one-sided ; the Government supine and in- 
different ; so that, however excellent the safe- 
guards of the coolie may appear on paper, it is 
just the opposite in practice. It is true that in 
some few particulars a change for the better 
might be made in the immigration system, but 
it is altogether false to assert that the present 
laws on the subject are not upheld with the 
strictest integrity. The naked coolie has as 
fair a hearing and as strict justice meted out to 
him in magistrates' courts in the colony as is 


shown to any English subject in any court in 
England. The managers of estates are almost 
uniformly kind to their people ; and if they were 
not so, they are under such strict Government 
control, and the penalty for the ill-treatment of 
immigrants so tremendous, that few have the 
chance or the desire of making themselves liable 
to them. And let no one suppose the coolie is 
a patient sufferer, bearing ill-treatment without 
a murmur. He is quite conscious of his own 
importance. Let a cent of his wages be stopped, 
or a hair of his head touched, he never rests until 
he has obtained redress. 

The houses of the magistrates and immigration 
agents are constantly besieged by coolies with 
petty complaints, which have to be investigated, 
and which, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, 
are purely imaginary, or grossly exaggerated. 
With Oriental imagery and metaphor, the coolie 
magnifies his wrongs until they seem almost un- 
bearable by any one man, but which, when touched 
by the spear of truthful investigation, melt away 
like the baseless fabric of a dream. It may with 
truth be asserted that, for many years past, no 
coolie immigrant has sustained any substantial 
injury from one of the governing class without 
receiving ample redress. He receives much worse 
treatment from his fellow-countrymen ; in fact, 
the quarrels between coolies, male and female, 
furnish much of the work for the courts of justice. 
The Hindoo or Mussulman from Bengal or Oude is 
the most litigious of men, and will often spend 


$50 or $100 in the Law Courts trying to avenge 
himself on an adversary who has offended him. 

We have now seen the Indian peasant in his 
old and in his adopted home. Let us compare the 
two positions. On the one hand, misery and 
poverty, debt and starvation; on the other, 
comfort, food, and moderate labour, leading to 
independence and even wealth. Let any one 
compare the immigrant when he first lands in 
Demerara with the same man a year or two after- 
wards. At first he is a poor cringing creature, 
bowing to the earth before every white man he 
meets ; apologetic for his very existence. You 
meet the same man in two years 7 time, strong, 
clean, erect, passing with an indifferent stare, or 
if he knows and respects you, with a hearty 
" Salaam, Sahib, 77 and a wave of his hand towards 
his turban. What is the cause of this change ? 
Because the man has found out that he is some 
one ; that he has a value and position of his own ; 
that in the eyes of the law, no one is better than 
he ; because he is free from debt, and making 
money. All these things combine to make him 
hold up his head and give a spring to his step. 
But I will go further than this, and say that the 
condition of the immigrant can be compared 
favourably with the position of the agricultural 
labourer in the southern counties of England. 

No better object-lesson as to the improved 
condition of the Indian peasant in his West- 
Indian home could have been furnished to a 
spectator than what I myself saw in Essequibo, 


some years ago, when famine was raging in 
Madras. Standing amongst a group of immi- 
grants, I was showing them those sad pictures 
which appeared in the English illustrated papers 
from photographs of the famine-stricken wretches 
in India. Cries of wonder and horror burst from 
the people on all sides, tears stood in their eyes 
as they pointed to the representations of the 
miserable skeletons which were a living people; 
and it was with pride and pleasure that my eyes 
wandered over the groups of robust, active forms, 
around me, well-nourished, strong, and elegant^ 
and to the brown plump bodies of the naked 
Indian children crawling about our feet in all the 
abandonment of unclothed childhood. 

The contrast of the two scenes, the one on 
paper, the other in reality, required no com- 
mentator to impress its teaching on the spectator.. 
It cannot be denied that miserable objects are to 
be seen at times in the public streets of the colony 
Indian beggars, foul with loathsome sores, and 
reduced to skeletons ; but these are, nine times 
out of ten, the victims of their own vices or sloth, 
who have reduced themselves to such a condition 
in spite of all that the Government and the public 
can do to prevent them, and who prefer to live 
upon the misplaced charity or sickening disgust 
of kindly people, rather than earn an honest 
livelihood by any physical exertion. 

In all countries and races there is a class of 
malingerers. Doctors have told me that in the 
estates' hospitals they have been compelled to tie 


up their patients' hands to prevent them tearing 
the poultices from their ulcers, so as to prolong 
their detention in the idleness and comfort of the 
hospital. Similarly in the Georgetown Gaol some 
of the prisoners would eat the sand-box seeds 
which fell into the gaol yard, so as to cause 
dysentery, which would necessitate their confine- 
ment in the hospital, and consequent cessation of 

British Guiana ought to be a paradise for the 
poor inhabitants. No fires are required except 
for cooking ; clothes are only used for decency or 
ornament. Any shanty which will turn the rain 
is a sufficient dwelling ; walls are a superfluity, as 
they only keep out the cooling sea-breeze. The 
earth, under the most perfunctory cultivation, 
produces food in abundance ; a bunch of plantains, 
which will keep a man for a week in food, can be 
bought for a shilling or a guilder. Wages are 
high ; any able-bodied labourer can earn two 
shillings a-day, whilst mechanics and carpenters 
obtain from eighty-eight cents to a dollar. There 
are thousands of acres of virgin soil waiting for 
cultivation, which can be bought at a dollar an 
acre, so that in a few years of steady labour and 
thrift any of the peasantry can become landed 

It is gratifying to find that the peasantry of 
the colony are advancing in knowledge, thrift, 
and self-respect. The villagers now elect their 
own council, and, under the fostering care of the 
Central Board of Health, are gradually developing 


into well-governed communities. The number of 
depositors in the Savings Bank shows a steady 
increase ; a greater interest in politics, both 
colonial and village, is being excited; there is a 
growing desire to acquire and cultivate the soil ; 
and there seems some hope that we may realize 
one of the great wants of the colony, viz. a self- 
supporting agricultural peasantry. 

The gold industry has not so far realized the 
expectations of the colonists. It is true that the 
exports of gold have risen from 250 ounces in 
1884 to about 127,000 ounces in 1897, but the 
increase during the last three years has not been 
large, and the results of quartz-crushing at the 
Kanaimapo and Barima mines have not been of 
such a nature as to attract the European capitalist. 
That gold exists in paying quantities over a large 
area of the colony no one can doubt, but it is a 
country where prospecting is carried out with 
great difficulty owing to the dense forests with 
which it is covered, so it is possible the richest 
deposits have so far evaded the quest of the miner. 

Diamonds have been discovered accidentally 
whilst searching for gold, and there is no reason 
why large deposits of these precious stones should 
not be found, seeing that Brazil was of old re- 
nowned for its diamonds, and Guiana resembles 
that neighbouring country in geological formation. 

Given fair treatment to the sugar planter with 
regard to bounty-fed sugar, abandonment by the 
Indian Government of the back passage to India 
for every East Indian immigrant, and a reasonable 


influx of European capital to assist in the develop- 
ment of the gold-fields, then British Guiana will 
develop with leaps and bounds, and become, as it 
ought to be, one of the brightest jewels in the 
Imperial Crown of Britain. 


THE names of the different sugar estates in British Guiana 
indicate clearly the various nationalities which have suc- 
cessively owned the soil. The Dutch, French, and English 
succeeded each other in possession. In addition to this, 
during and after the negro insurrection in Hayti, a large 
number of French planters with their families emigrated 
to British Guiana. 

The Dutch occupation has left the broadest mark 
on the colony. Not only do the majority of the estates 
possess Dutch names, but so do objects in common use, 
and the common law of the colony is still Roman-Dutch. 
" Goedverwagting," "Zorg," "Uitvlugt," " Stanvastig- 
heid," " Met-en-meerzorg," " Hoff-van-aurich," "Vryheids 
Lust," and hundreds of other Dutch names of estates still 

The French planters are recalled by "La Belle Alli- 
ance," "MonEepos," "Le Desir," " Le Repentir," "Le 
Resouvenir," " Mon Bijon," " Vive la force," and many 
others. Whilst John Bull has given characteristic titles 
to his properties " Diamond," " Golden Grove," "Hope," 
" Experiment," " Fear not," " Beehive," " Reliance," 
" Providence," etc. " Nabaclis " must have been so called 
by an Irishman. 



IN a country originally occupied by Indian tribes speaking 
several distinct tongues, and conquered by Spaniards, 
Frenchmen, Dutchmen, and Englishmen in turn, it is 
only reasonable to expect a survival of many strange 
words, which by degrees will become obsolete and un- 
known. An immigrant population of Hindoos and Congoes 
have added its quota to this polyglot multitude ; so that 
the current language of British Guiana is a curious mix- 
ture of many tongues. By printing the following list of 
words in common use in the colony, I do not mean to assert 
that they are all peculiar to it, and not used elsewhere ; 
some of them are well known in the West Indian Islands. 


Able, strong ; handsome. 
Abouya, peccary. 
Accourie, a kind of guinea-pig. 
Adourie, a kind of guinea-pig. 
Ant-bear, great ant-eater. 
Antiman, a sodomite. 
Ashus, splendid ; fine. 
Assaye, drink made from manicole 

Atturibanna, traveller's tree. 


Baby, very large flask of hollands. 
Ballahoo, small punt. 
Banjo-man, a kind of liassar. 
Baridi, a small hawk. 
Batteau, a round-bottomed boat. 
Battel, round wooden dish used by 


Bawakatta, large armadillo. 
Bee -bird, humming-bird. 
Bell-bird, campanero. 



Beltierie, drink made from purple 

Benab, hut built of poles, with a 

palm-thatched roof. 
Benaboo, small benab. 
Bete rouge, red grass-ticks. 
Bill-bird, toucan. 
Bitt, fourpenny-piece. 
Boss, bass, master. 
Bottlebrush, a splendid climber, 

with scarlet flowers like brushes. 
Boviander, cross between a Dutch- 
man and a native Indian. 
Brake mout, very hard biscuit. 
Brigade, albert watch-chain. 
Brinkel, a kind of fish. 
Buck, aboriginal Indian. 
Buckeen, female aboriginal Indian. 
Buck - pot, Indian earthenware 

Buckra, chief: generally applied 

to white men. 
Buckramanna, a veiy hot kind 

of red pepper. 
Buekshell, Indian canoe. 
Buck-shot, seeds of a caladium. 
Bulls, big flat cakes of flour and 


Bundouri, species of crab. 
Bush-cow, tapir. 
Bushmaster, venomous snake. 
Bushropes, lliaues. 
Busy-busy, a kind of reed. 
Butter-fish, a kind of smelt. 


Caddy, mixed shell and sand. 
CalalSo, a kind of spinach. 
Cama, tapir. 

Camahead pine, a large wild pine- 

Camoodie, boa-constrictor. 
Carcotie, a sort of fibre. 

Carra-carra, a beautiful scarlet 


Carrion crow bush, wild senna. 
Cartaback, a river fish. 
Casirie, drink made from sweet 

Cassereep, boiled juice of bitter 

Caveached (fish), cold fish, with 

pepper, vinegar, and onion. 
Cayman, large alligator. 
Chokabawt, miners' mess : dump- 
lings, salt pork, and rice. 
Chuck, blow ; push. 
Cob, cross between mulatto and 


Coffin-trimmer, a bush-owl. 
Colony doctors, vampire bats. 
Comb-fish, saw- fish. 
Compass, a pint. 
Conquintay, plantain meal. 
Coolie, East Indian immigrant. 
Coonacooshie, bushmaster. 
Corial, Indian canoe. 
Corn coo-coo, boiled sweet maize. 
Crab-dog, a kind of fox. 
Creek, small river ; brook. 
Creole, born in the Colony. 
Crosby, immigration agent. 
Cuffum, tarpon : large fish like a 


Cuia, a kind of trogon. 
Cuirasse, a skin-fish. 
Curri-curri, scarlet ibis. 
Cuttee-cuttee, vegetable soup. 


Dallibanna, palm, used for 

Dam, dyke. 
Darree, a kind of fish. 
Dinkee, female's petticoat. 
Double-lay, strappings of soil. 

before you come to pay-dirt. 



Drogher, a schooner. 
Drogheree, small schooner. 
Droghery, drying ground for 

Duraquarra, a bird like a 


Eddoes, kind of yam. 

Eetaboo, water-way, forming a 

short cut through bush. 
Ematubboh, a portage round a 

Expression, bad abusive word : 

" He use an expression, Sah." 


Fat pork, a kind of plum. 

Fire, strike: "He fire a kick at 


Foo-foo, boiled plantains, pounded. 
Foot, used for the whole leg. 
Four eyes, a small fish found in 

brackish water. 
Four-foot, trench of that width. 


Gallery, verandah to a house. 
Gallinipper, large mosquito. 
Gaulding, white ibis. 
Gilbacker, a large skin-fish. 
Gill, a penny. 

Gill bread, a small loaf of bread. 
Grenadilla, fruit of large passion 

Groo-groo worm, caterpillar out 

of groo-groo palm, eaten as a 

Guana, iguana : large edible lizard. 

Guffy, a gullible person. 
Guilder, local coin, value Is. 


Hackia-stick, stick made of 

hackia ; any long hard stick. 
Half-foot man, man with one 

Half-hand man, man with one 


Hand, used for the whole arm. 
Hangnest, golden oriole. 
Hardback, black beetle. 
Hassa, fish covered with armour. 
Hautow, blue-headed mot-mot. 
Heerie, large white crane. 
Hiaree, plant used by Indian to 

poison fish. 

Honoonoo, large bumble-bee. 
Hook, point of a river. 
Howrie, fresh-water fish. 


Ituritie, used in making baskets. 


Jackass, rice-bag hammock. 

Jew, or June fish, a large sea- 

Jiggers, sand-fleas (Pulex pene- 

Joe, a gold coin, value $7.33. 

Johnny cake, flour, water, and 
salt baked. 

Johnny crow, turkey buzzard. 

Juke, poke : " He juke me wi' he 

Jumbi, ghost. 

Jumbi fowl, sensa, or Dominique. 



Jumbi ochro, bush-mallow. 

Jumper, short jacket. 


Kapoorie (Arawak), abandoned 


Karduni, wild boar. 
Keenah, dislike (to some person). 
Kitting, a company canal. 
Kibbahde, coati. 
King-road, highway. 
Kinkajou, a sort of polecat. 
Kiskadi, bird ; shrike. 
Knife-grinder, cicada. 
Kockahbay, a kind of leprosy. 
Koker, a sluice. 
Krumi, a kind of cuffum. 
Kush-kush, slush of megass in 

Kyderkooree, smallarmadillo. 


Labarria, poisonous snake. 
Labba, the hollow-cheeked paca. 
Lap, Indian apron. 
Laura, parrot (Sp. Lora). 
Lazy-bird, cuckoo. 
Logie, shed. 
Long-torn, negro dance. 
Low-low, large fresh- water fish. 


Maam, wild bird, rail. 
Mahouka, sort of bustard, with 

spurs on wings. 

Maiwarree, a fresh -water fish. 
Mammee apple, large brown 

round fruit. 

Mamoorie, strong fibre used for 


Manatee, sea-cow ; dugong. 
Mandram, an appetiser, made ot 

chopped cucumber and fresh 


Mangroo, mangoe. 
Mannish, saucy; impudent. 
Manrd, basket for winnowing coffee. 
Marabunta, wasp. 
Maroudie, wild turkey. 
Mascuitte, uncured sugar. 
Mash, crush : " She mash me fat." 
Maswah, climbing palm. 
Matapie, cassava strainer. 
Maullies, bobs of hair on back of 

woman's head. 

Mawer boundah, scarlet bottle- 
brush : a climbing plant. 
Medallion, locket or trinket on 


Megass, sugar-cane refuse. 
Middle walk, main road of an 


Mingie mamma, dancing mer- 

Mocco-mocco, wild arum. 
Monkey jumping, hauling punts 

up stream by fastening ropes to 

Monkey-pots, seed capsules of a 

forest tree. 
Monkey rope, margravia : a 

beautiful climbing plant. 
Monkey syrup, a small green 

Mortar-stick, club used for 

pounding foo-foo. 
Mosquito worm, large parasitic 


Mucuroo, a kind of basket. 
Mudhead, a native of British 

Mustee, cross between quadroon 

and black. 



Mynap (Carib), abandoned field. 
Mypourie, tapir. 

Negro cop, large crane, with a 

black head. 
Nigger-man rice, rice boiled with 

pork, beef, fish, and pepper. 
Numb fish, electric eel. 
Nyam, to eat: "Dog no nyara 



Obeah, witchcraft 
Old witch, black cattle bird. 
Ouistiti, squirrel-monkey. 
Outlawded, desperate ; reckless. 


Faal, boundary stake. 

Pacoo, a fresh- water fish. 

Parasite, orchid; epiphyte. 

Pashumah, scraggy. 

Patwallah, palm ribs used to 
make pawee. 

Pawee, stop-off to catch fish. 

Peerai, fresh-water shark. 

Pegall, Indian basket. 

Pegass, peat 

Pepper-pot, stewed meat flavoured 
with cassareep and fresh peppers. 

Piccaninny, pickney, children.*; 

Pimpler, thorn. 

Pimpler haag, hedgehog ; porcu- 

Pinder brafoo, soup, thickened 
with pinders. 

Pinder, ground-nut. 

Pittee, a strong kind of fibre. 

Piwarrie, intoxicating drink made 
by Indians from cassava ; a 

Plantain walk, fields of plantains. 

Plantains, vegetable bananas. 

Pond-fly, dragon-fly. 

Poodey baura, cherry tree. 

Portmantel, carpet-bag ; port- 

Powis, curassow. 

Putta-putta, soft mud. 


Quaak, a sea-coast bird that utters 

that sound. 

Quacca-bukker, company canal. 
Quackoo, small marabunta. 
Quadrille-bird, a wild bird that 

pipes the opening bars of the old 


Quaick, a kind of basket. 
Question, immoral solicitation. 
Queyo, a bead apron worn by 

Indian women. 
Qu-qu, inspection : to q-q a sugar 



Rain-bird, a bird that heralds the 

rainy season. 
Bed howler, baboon (mycetes). 


Sackawinki, small spectacled 

Sacki, a small blue, or grey bird 


Salampenter, large lizard. 
Sand-fly, a small stinging insect. 



Sangaree, iced negus. 

Sapadilla, fruit ; nazeberry. 

Satin, drink composed of gin, 
seltzer, sugar, and ice. 

Savannah, prairie. 

Savez, knowledge. 

Scotchman, common wild flower ; 
a large prawn. 

Sea-cow, manatee ; dugong. 

Seepage, water oozing from a 

Shrimmies, shrimps. 

Side-lines, the dams which en- 
close an estate on each side. 

Silverballi, a native wood. 

Simitoo, fruit of wild passion 

Smouse (to), to raise the top of a 
dam to keep out water. 

Snake-bird, diver. 

Snake-fish, eel. 

Soul-case, man's body. 

Spurwing, bird (Parrajassana). 

Squash, vegetable-marrow. 

Stelling, wharf. 

Stingaree, sting ray. 

Stink-bird, hoatzin; canje phea- 

Stiver, small coin ; penny. 

Stop-off, a dam across water-way. 

Sunfish, fresh-water fish, like a 

Swizzle, cocktail. 


Tacooba, heart of tree; snag. 
Tannia, kind of yam. 
Tetter, skin disease. 
Tiger, jaguar ; any kind of felidoe. 
Tiger-bird, bittern. 
Tiger-fish, a handsome striped 
pike-like fish. 

Too-roo drink, drink made from 

too-roo palm. 
Trench, canal. 
Troolie, broad-leaved palm, used 

for thatching. 


Wabri, a fresh-water fish like a 
small bream. 

Waggon, a four-wheeled buggy. 

Wahdaroh, wild plantain. 

Wahourie, small perai. 

Wallaba, wood used for shingles. 

Wallababa, purple cotinga. 

Warracabra, trumpet-bird. 

Warrambi, cassava sifter. 

Water-dog, otter. 

Water-haas, capybara. 

Water-lemons, fruit of passion- 

Water-mamma, mermaid ; syren. 

Who are you ? goat-sucker. 

Wicissi, wild duck ; teal. 

Wirrebiscere, small antelope. 

Wongalah, a kind of soup. 

Wood-skin, Indian bark canoe. 

Worry-worry, midges. 

Wourali, Indian poison for arrows. 

Wow- wow, a kind of trogon. 


Yam nacktie, night - prowling 

Yarrow, a trout-like fish. 

Yarrow manny, a plant, seeds 
deadly poison. 

Yessi, armadillo. 

Yeyeturn, squinting eye ; dizzi- 

Yrwarry, opossum rat. 

2 A 


THE following most amusing case between two Africans 
occurred in Mr. Turk's court, and was most inimitably 
reported by Mr. McTurk. Of course the spelling is con- 
jectural and phonetic : 

William Henry summoned Thomas Hercules to answer 
an alleged charge of theft. 

Complainant asserted that defendant had stolen his 
duck, value five shillings. 

While the complaint was being read, defendant listened 
without interruption until the alleged value of the duck, 
five shillings, was stated, when he made the remark, 
"Duck price raise fo' true!" On being called upon to 
plead to the charge, he replied, " Wa da ? Da tough, 
tough, someting fo' five shillin' ; man no ha conscience. 
Bin sevin bit an' a half, fine someting; but whole five 
shillin' Guilty ? No, sah, me isn't guilty. Hello ! " 

The complainant was then sworn, and in answer to 
the magistrate stated that he lived at Water Lot, in the 
county of Essequibo. The defendant interrupted, said this 
statement was a lie, " cause he lib a' one trash house, 
inside cow-pasture." Proceeding, complainant stated that 
on a certain day he "bin hab one duck-drake, and de 
duck-drake always does walk in de trench wid de duck-hen ; 
dem da catch shrimmies. One big trench bin deh right a 
we do' mout', me honour, an' we bin lib one side de trench 


and Tammas de oddah. Me always does see how Tammas 
does watch dem duck, hungry fashion." Happening this 
moment to look at the defendant, complainant wanted to 
know "da who you a cut you yiye 'pon?" Defendant 
simply remarked, " You see um ! " Complainant, who was 
becoming excited, continued, saying he "bin see how 
Tammas does watch dem duck, hungry fashion." Thomas 
here audibly sucked his teeth, at which complainant became 
more excited, and hurriedly said, " Look da nagah mout', 
me honour ; watch un good he mout', 'tau jus' like a 
harrygatah (alligator), a so harrygatah mout' 'tan 'wen 
dem hungry fo' duck -chicken." 

Defendant wanted to know " da who he call nagah " 
(nigger). The magistrate informed the complainant that 
he mustn't call the defendant "nagah," nor use any other 
offensive term in alluding to him. Defendant thanked the 
magistrate, and, in a sort of stage-whisper, audible through- 
out the court, remarked, " Tank God me teet' no tan like 
parch co'n," which reference to the colour of the com- 
plainant's teeth, which were very yellow, caused a tittering 
amongst the spectators. 

Proceeding, complainant said that on a certain morn- 
ing after taking his tea, he " bin miss de duck," and, as 
"Tammas had lef he house" on the previous day, "we 
min bin gie me Tammas hois' me duck, cause me does see 
he bin a watch dem." He then, he said, called a witness, 
or, to use his own term, a "wickedness," and the two went 
to where he knew " Tammas bin get in fo' to lib." This 
was about 10 a.m. On arrival there in company with the 
" wickedness," " he bin see a saucepan deh, 'pon tap fire 
a-boil ; de saucepan deh right a de do' mout', an' so me 
put me yiye 'pon 'em. Me see someting a boil deh, and 
two duck foot deh ; de saucepan can't boil um. One time 
me wan' fo' reman' (demand) de duck. Tammas come out 
a do', come ax me wa me wan' deh. Me tell um da duck. 
Tammas loose some nassy cuss 'pon me, an', please me 
honour, he say " The magistrate desired the com- 
plainant not to report the " cusses," but to go on with his 


evidence. This he did reluctantly, at having to omit the 
repetition of the " cusses," but insisted on saying that the 
"refenant cuss me warious," and he identified the duck 
by " a plit on its right han' fingah-toe," where he himself 
had given the " fingah-'kin a 'plit." 

Defendant was asked if he wished to ask the com- 
plainant any questions. Turning to complainant, defen- 
dant coughed twice, and then desired him, the complainant, 
to "watch me good." Cross-examination as follows : 

Defendant. " You 'pon you boat* ? " 

Complainant. " You no' see me kiss da book ? " 

Defendant. "You say da duck bin da saucepan. How 
you know he no fowl-cock ? " 

Complainant. "You ebba see fowl-cock got fingah- 

Defendant. "You say bin a ten a'clack. How you 
know dat da ? Wich side you get watch ? " 

Complainant. "Hum! Earn goat got bea'd, but you 
ebba see um da shabe bea'd wid razah ? " 

Defendant. " You say me bin lib clos' you ; you no* 
see me bin got fowl an' duck dem." 

Complainant. " A see you bin get two tree pashumah 
(scraggy) fowl. Da wak you go do wid duck ? You sa 
tief you matty own ! " 

Defendant. " Watch me, good sah, an' no' come cut 
your yiye 'pon me. No lie ! You do lie, da place you tan 
up deh ! " ' 

Complainant became so indignant at this that he was 
told to stand down and call his witness. 

The first witness for the prosecution being called, 
stated her name was Mrs. Boson. On being asked her 
Christian name she said, " Me name Billy Boson, sah, but 
me title Misis Boson." Having been sworn, she stated, 
" Bin Friday maanin', sah, an' me bin get up, me washup, 
an go a do', an' me come back, an' come clean me teet'." 

On being asked to confine herself to the time from 
when she was called by the complainant, she said, "Da 
da me a tell you, sah. So me come from a do', sah." Here 


she was stopped again, and asked if she knew the duck. 
Eeplying, she said, " Me, sah, ow me washup, me know 
de duck-drake sence he bin a chicken" she knew it "he 
fingah-'kin habe a 'plit." In what way was it split. "A 
go tell you, sah. Mr. Henry bin got plenty fowl, sah, an' 
he bin got some duck too, an' some time dem duck a lay 
on dem us want set ; and sometimes dem fowl da lay too, 
an' dem no want set down 'pon de hegg me washup, dem 
'tack is too provokin.' So, me washup, Mr. Henry bin got 
plenty fowl hegg, an' fowl no want set, an' he no got duck 
hegg, an' dem duck a train up demself, an' se' down pan 
piece po' k bone an' one ol' pipe for try hatch dem out, 
teh de gen'lman 'blige put some fowl hegg gie one o' dem 
duck let he cast he mind 'pon urn. De duck look 'pon dem 
hegg, me washup, an' he know well dem no duck hegg, 
but wen pickney can't get mama dem 'blige suck grannie. 
De duck try best 'pon dem fowl hegg teh dem come hatch 
out, but when de duck come look 'pon dem chickens, he 
tummick turn. Win de hatch done, de duck carry dem 
fowl-chicken a trench, fo' catch shrimmies. De duck get 
in watah, 'tan up 'trait to shake he wing ; one time he 
put he head a battam watah, an' tun he tail atap. Dem 
fowl-chicken tan up a trench- side, an' tink dem mama 
get fit. Da duck a make quack-quack-quack fo' call dem 
pickney a watah, dem too make a pi-pi-pi an' tan up a 
dam. Me washup, de duck no know wa' fo' do, so he 
came out a dam, begin try best 'cratch dutty for' feed 
dem chicken. One time glass bottel come cut he fingah- 
'kin, an' so he gat he fingah-'kin 'plit." 

Answer. " You ebba see fowl foot got fingah-'kin 
'pon em ? " 

Question. " You 'pon you hoat' now ! " 

Ansiver. " Hi ! da wa you hax me da fo' ? If you yiye 
no good, you can put on you 'specticle. You no' bin see 
w'en me kiss de book ? " 

Question. " You deh 'pon hoat', 'peak the truit. You 
no lib wid Willyum?" 

Answer. "Wa da! Me washup, me got me married 


man a house " (indignantly to defendant). " You wait tell 
you meet a do' he a'l you see see 'tory." 

Mary Jacob being sworn in answer to defendant, said, 
" she bin know William Henry duck-drake, causin de duck- 
drake does always walk a trench clos' do' inout'. Da duck 
ha maak? Yes." On being asked to describe the mark, 
she said, " Mr. Henry duck bin one ha 'd 'eas duck, an' 
he no does wan' 'tan clos' house fo' feed a de trench, but 
he does fly go till a ribah. Wen he put he head a battam, 
so cock his tail atap, a catch shrimmies, he no a see wa 
trash deh behin' um, so one time Peri come nyam off he 
two foot. A duck no bin got foot 't all, no moh maken 
'tump, sah." Here complainant interrupted by, " Wan' fo' 
know if a duck no' bin got 'tick fo' waak wid ? " 

Question. " You no bin help nyam (eat) a duck ? " 
Answer. " Who da ! Naasy ting like da ; me no a 
nyam duck." 

Question. " You know wha' dem call lie ? " 
Answer. " Me washup, you see dah man a call me 
liah. No friken, me fren', a go make you prufe me. Me 
sa 'pin nine bit 'pon you mesef." 

Thomas Hercules being asked if he had anything to 
say for himself, replied, " Wha' me got fo' say ? You 
yeary dee 'tory a 'ready, sah. De man mus' be loss 
money make he wan' come make um up 'pon me. Wa 
kin a duck da fo' five shillin' ? Da me a got money ah 
bank? Den da ooman come tell you 'bout duck and 
fowl pickney. Might as well come tell you say jackass 
da win' hag pickney. Da lie, sah; hole ting a lie. Da 
'pite ; dem wan' 'pite me, sah. Da Shatan crass (Satan's 
curse) dem wan' put 'pon me come call me harrygatah 
'pon top." Case was dismissed, Defendant to complainant, 
" Berry well, a you yiye clean now ? Harrygatah moh 
na duck-drake." 


ABARY Creek, 84 

Aboriginal Indians of British Guiana, 

Accawoio, tribe of Indians, 88, 149 ; 

a chief of, 175; palaver with, 183, 


Adultery, 219 
African (Congo) names of children, 

239, 240 
Africans ; in British Guiana, and 

dancing, 66; on Better Success 

estate, 143, 144; Kroomen, 171, 

172; at home, 253; case of two, 

before Mr. McTurk, 354-358. See 

also Congos 

Akyma, place called, 161-163 
Allen, Lieut., 69 

Alley ne, Sergeant, 167-169, 180-184 
Allicock, woodcutter named, 165, 166 
Anna Regina police station, 216, 217, 


Arabs, Algerian murder by, 302 
Arawak tribe of Indians, 105, 106, 

132, 133, 149 
Archer, Sarah, 145, 146 
Arecuna Indians, 172 
Argosy newspaper, 9, 10, 311 
Aripiaco River, 109 
Arno, s.s., 203 
Arnott, Captain, 93 
Aroabisce coast, 97, 143; visit to, 


Atkinson, Mr. Justice, 37 
Auction sale (vendue), 200-202 
Aurora, Plantation, marriage at, 225- 

231 ; murder at, 295 ; case of muti- 
lation at, 324 
Austin, Dean, 100, 101, 133 

, Miss Anna, 105, 106, 133 

, Mr. W. G. G., 330, 332 

, Eev. Wm. G., 72, 100, 105, 330 

, AVm. P., Bishop of Guiana, 

72, 111, 112, 329-332; death of, 


BABOO English, specimen of, 247 

Bagot, Mr. George, 93 

Baker, Inspector, 71 

Barama River, 136 

Barima River, 136 ; gold in, 345 

Barnes, Inspector, 71 

Barristers in British Guiana, 32-42, 

259, 286 
Bartica, 135, 136 ; Church at, 137 ; 

visit to, in 1891, 138-141 
Beckwith's Hotel, Georgetown, 76, 


Belfield, race meeting at, 63 
Bellerophon, H.M.S., 114, 115 
Berbice, colony of, 11, 35, 194; river, 


BerUce, s.s., 193 
Bernard, Mr., 88 
Better Success (estate), 143 
Bindharry, East Indian immigrant, 

241, 242 
Blackman, Chas., notorious burglar, 


, Mr., 306, 307 

Blair, Dr., 272 

, Mr., 16 

Bloodstock in British Guiana, 62 
Blunt, Mr. Arthur, 167, 170-172, 

Boiler explosion at Huis t'Dieren, 

Bood-drudin, a Mohammedan. 324, 


Bourda cemetery, 20 
Bovianders (native Indians), 147-149, 


Braud, Arthur, 173 
Breakwater at Georgetown, 4 
Bremner, a Boviander family, 161- 


Brett, Rev. William, 100 
Brick dam, Georgetown, 5 
Bridges, Mr. W. F., 108, 115, 118, 




British Guiana : first impressions of 
the colony of, 2, 3; houses and 
drainage in, 5, 6; climate of, 6, 14, 
15, 333, 334 ; tropical rainfall in, 
7 ; society in, 7, 8 ; newspapers of, 9, 
10 ; monotony of life in, 11 ; history 
of, 11-13; burials in, 15, 16, 19; 
yellow fever in, 16-18; funerals 
in, 19 ; lepers in, 21 ; hospitals in, 
22; a thirsty colony, 23-27; the 
"pepper-pot" of, 28, 29; planters 
in, 29, 30; medical men in, 31, 
32 ; barristers in, 32-42 ; religious 
sects in, 42-44 ; women in, 45-48 ; 
population of, 53, 293; census 
returns of, 53-56 ; amusements in, 
61-66 ; officials of, 67, 68 ; military 
forces in, 68-70; vegetation and 
forests in, 80-83 ; game in, 83-90 ; 
the home of the great snakes, 90, 
91 ; fishing in, 91-97 ; trips to the 
bush in, 109; birds in, 123, 124, 
131, 132; old graves in, 164; 
immigration to, 206-208, 212-217 ; 
crime in, 291-307 ; marriage laws 
in, 312, 313; the peasantry of, 
344, 345 ; gold industry of, 345 ; how 
to make the colony prosperous, 
345, 346 

Brittlebank, Mr., 169, 170 

Brown, the hangman, 307 

Burglaries, 320-322 

Burials in British Guiana, 15, 16, 
19, 20 

Bush in British Guiana; trips to, 

CABACABUKI Mission, 81 ; visit to, 110- 

112, 120, 122 
Cake walks, 42, 43 
Camounie Creek, 167, 213 ; Chinese 

settlement at, 216 
Canada, H.M.S., 278 
Canals in Georgetown, 4 
Capoey creek and lake, 97, 129, 130, 


Carib Indians, 118, 119 
Caroquia, place called, 179 
Cassava (food), 176 
Castor, Dr., 145 
Caulfield, Major, 277 
Cayenne, 12, 302, 303 
Ceiba tree, 81 
Cemeteries: Le Kepentir, 20; 

Bourda, 20 
Census returns in British Guiana, 

Cesspools in Guiana, 5, 6 

Chan-a-fook, Chinese pedlar, 209- 

Chinese, 303, 304; cricket match 

with, at Georgetown, 64, 65 ; im- 
migration to British Guiana, 207, 

212-217; execution of, 2 11; method 

of taking oaths, 238 
Chotki, man named, 325, 326 
Christianburgh, 166 
Clementson, Mr. Henry, 30, 31 
Climate of British Guiana, 6, 7, 14, 

15, 333, 334 

Coleridge, Bishop, of Barbados, 139 
Congos (Africans) in British Guiana, 

144, 266 ; names of children, 239, 

Convicts at Massaruni, 186. See also 

Coolie marriages, 218, 219, 245, 248, 

Coolies in Georgetown, 250, 262, 339- 

341 ; education of, 239 
Coomarramara, place called, 178 
Coomarroo, French settler at, 176, 

Coreutyne River, smuggling on the, 


Corona, s.s., 214 
Couchman, Mr. George, 177, 180- 


Cox, Mr. N., 185 
Creoles in British Guiana, 29, 240, 

311 ; and dancing, 65, 66 ; speeches 

of, 257-259 ; and " obeah," 281-284 
Creole words, glossary of, 348-353 
Cricket at Georgetown, 63-65 
Crime and criminals in British 

Guiana, 290-307, 310 
Crosby, Mr. James, 72-74, 215 
Curiebrong River, 86 
Cuyuni River, 136, 140 

DADSON, Captain P., 186 

Dare, Mr., 200 

Dalgin Station, 167-169 

Dancing in British Guiana, 65, 66, 


Dauntless Bank (island), 134 
Davis (jockey), 62 
Dawson, Mr., of Plantation L'TJnion, 

130, 145, 146 
Demerara, colony of, 11, 13; cooks 

in, 51, 52 ; flowers of, 81 ; marriage 

ceremony in, 263-266; want of 

midwives in, 269 
Derrire Hill, 184 
Devonshire Castle Plantation, riot 

on, 101-104 



Diamonds found in British Guiana, 


Duncan, Mr. K. G., 142, 143 
Durban, Major-General Sir B., 12, 

61, 139 

racecourse, the, 61-63 

Dutch, the, and British Guiana, 12, 

347 ; old seats of government of 

the, 189, 190; tombs of the, in 

the colony, 195 

EAST Indian immigrants, 208, 217- 

225, 244-250, 335-343; law with 

regard to, 294 
Education, 287 
Eneyeudah Mission, 179, 180 
Entomology: butterflies, 133; great 

wood-boring bees, 132 ; wasps, 76. 

See also INSECTS 
Essequibo, colony of, 11, 12; riot in, 

River, 95, 97; islands in the, 

134 ; gold in, 135, 136, 140 
Etwarrea, Indian girl named, 220- 


Everard, Edward, 72 
Executions in British Guiana, 305- 


FANSHAWE, Admiral, 76 

Farrell, Geo. (jockey), 62 

Field, Mr. Edmund, 30, 75 

Fireworks on Hampton Court Plan- 
tation, 145, 146 

Fish of British Guiana, 91-97; ca- 
manna, 179; cartaback,95; cuffum, 
92-96; dog-fish, 94; low-low, 95; 
lukananni, 92-96 ; river-fish, 95 ; 
sunfish, 94, 95; wabri, 94, 95; 
warrow, 94, 95 

Fishing in British Guiana, 91-97 

Fitz-Herbert, Samuel T., 37-40 

Flogging, 314-318 

Flowers in British Guiana, 81-83 

Fly-fishing, 95 

Forbes, Charles, 108, 117 

Forests in British Guiana, 80-83 

Forged will, a, 234-237 

Foote, Dr. and Mrs., 124 

Fort Island, 190 

Fort Nassau, 194, 195 

Fort William Frederick, 70 

Foster-Foster, Colonel, 50-52 

French planters, in British Guiana, 
347 ; at Coomarroo, 176, 177 

Funerals in British Guiana, 19 

Fygelmesy, Colonel (American Con- 
sul), 192 

GALLAGHER, Mr. D. M., 196 

Gambling, the Chinese and, 213 

Game in British Guiana, 83-90 

Gardens in British Guiana, 81-83 

Gas in the colony, 76 

Georgetown, frogs in, 3; description 
of, 3, 4 ; drainage of, 5, 6 ; trees in, 
10 ; fever epidemic at, in 1881, 17, 
18 ; cemetery of, 20 ; colonial hos- 
pital in, 22 ; club at, 25-27; doctors 
in, 32 ; Zoo in the Botanical Gar- 
dens at, 56-58 ; Durban racecourse 
at, 61-63 ; cricket club at, 63-65 ; 
dancing at, 66 ; the electric light 
in, 76 ; Beckwith's hotel at, 77, 78 ; 
museum in, 97; Chinese inhabi- 
tants in, 212, 213 ; coolies in, 250 ; 
no mortuary in, 251, 252 ; negro 
population of, 252-256; riots in, 
March, 1889, 274-281 ; dwellings 
of the poor in, 308-310 ; burglaries 
in, 320-322 

Gilbert, Mr. J. Trounsell, 37 

Glossary of Creole words, 348-353 

Gocool (Hindoo), 225 

Godfrey, Mr. B. J., 92 

Gold industry in British Guiana, 
135, 136, 175, 345 

Goldney, Judge J. T., 72 

Gormanston, Lord, 69, 275-278 

Gousalves, M.. a Portuguese, 273, 

Grant, Dr., 242 

Graves by the wayside, 163, 164 

Great Falls, the, 172, 179 

Grieve, Dr., 5, 196 

Guyana, 12 

HACKETT, Dr., 194, 199 

Halliday, M., 200 

Hamblin, Mr. Fred, 185, 190, 191 

Hamlet, the executioner, 305, 306 

Hampton Court Plantation, fireworks 
on, 145, 146 

"Hard-backs" (black beetles), 75, 

Harragin, Mr., Inspector-General of 
Police, 275 

Hawke, Lord, 64 

Heard, Mr. and Mrs., 110-112, 119 

, Kev. W., 332 

Henery, Dr., 203, 204 

Hill, Inspector, 192 

Hindoos in British Guiana, 244-250, 
256 ; and swearing, 59, 60 ; nautch 
dances of, 66 ; superstition, case of, 
225-231 ; names of children, 239, 
240; perjury amongst the, 233- 



238 ; method of taking oaths, 238, 
239 ; murder by a, 295, 296 
Hoatzin (pheasant), 85 
Hog Island, 140 
" Home," the word, 52, 53 
Hospitals in British Guiana, 22 
Houses in British Guiana, 5 
Huis t'Dieren, sugar estate called : 

tragedy on, 126-128 
Humphreys, Mr. W. H., 104 
Hyde Park Station, 167, 216 

IBE Falls, 182 

Ikarakka Lake, 129, 131, 132 
Imlach, Mr. B. W., 196 
Immigration of East Indians to 

British Guiana, 206-208, 212-218, 

244, 294, 335-343 
Immorality, 311, 312 
ImThurn, Mr. E., 115 
Indentured mechanics, 141-143 
Indian kanaima, the, 150-158 
Indian mission stations. See CABA- 


Indians, as hunters, 83, 84; and 
waracabra tigers, 86-88 ; and fish- 
ing, 91, 92, 95 ; missionary sta- 
tion built by, 110, 111 ; piwarrie 
feasts of, 119, 120, 122, 150, 172 ; 
native, of British Guiana, 147-150 ; 
women, 149 ; and clothes, 159, 
160 ; infanticide unknown among, 
160 ; and water spirits, 176 ; pala- 
ver with, 183, 184. See also ACCA- 
MACUSI, etc. 

Indians. See also EAST INDIANS. 

Infanticide, 160 

Insects, plagues of, in British Guiana, 
74-76; ants, 74; flying ants, 76; 
black beetles, 75, 76; centipedes, 
74, 75 ; cockroaches, 74 ; frogs, 3 ; 
green mantis, 76 ; yakman ants, 74 

Interpreters in Court, 303 

Iturabisce Creek, 105, 129, 131, 133 

" JEFFREYS, Captain," 120 

KANAIMA, the Indian, 150-158 
Kanaimapoo Gold Company, 175, 345 
Kaow Island, leper settlement at, 21, 


Keighley, Mr., 203-205 
King, Judge J. H., 72 
Koomparoo Rapids, 178, 184 
Kortright, Sir C., 108 
Kroomen, 171, 172 
Kykoveral, Island of, 189 

LARCENY, case of, 322, 323 

Ledoux, M., 173 

Lepers in British Guiana, 21 

Le Kepentir Cemetery, 20 ; mortuary 
at, 251 

Light, Governor, 140 

Lightning, deaths by, 323 

Longden, Lady, 193, 195, 196 

, Sir J. R., 185, 190, 193 

Lovesey, Judge C. H., 72 

Low, Mr., of Aurora, 130 

Lucas, Mr. R. S., 64 

Lunatic Asylum, near New Amster- 
dam, 196, 197 

Lynch, Mr., 36, 37 

MACALMAN, MR. A. C., 30 

Maccaseema, 112-115 

McClintock, Admiral Sir L., 114, 


, Mr., 113-115, 152, 156-158 

McPherson, Peter, 141-143 
McTurk, Mr., 138, 144; report of 

case before, 354-358 
Macusi, tribe of Indians, 149, 172 
Mahaica Creek, 92 
Main Street, Georgetown, 4 
Malali Rapids, 161, 169, 176 
Manatee, a, 134, 135 
Manatee Island, 134 
Manget, Dr., 47 
Marabunta (wasp), the, 76 
Marriage ceremony in Demerara, 

Marriage contract, a curious, 245, 


Mashaboo Creek, 129, 133 
Massaruni River, 95, 136, 138, 140; 

penal settlement on the, 31, 184- 

190, 313 

Maxwell, Mr. Benson, 27 
Mecropie Hill, 176 
Medical men in British Guiana, 31, 


Medora, Indian maiden, 111 
Menzies, Mr. John, 93 
Midwives, want of a training insti- 
tute for, in Demerara, 269, 270 
Miles, Mr., 17 
Mitchell, Sir Charles B., 108, 109, 

115, 122 

, Mr. William, 310 

Mootee, East Indian named, 242-244 
Mora Station, 169, 170 
Mowla Buksh, 208-211 
Munro, General, 185 
Murder and murderers in the colony, 
291-306, 324-327 



NEGROES in British Guiana, 252-256, 
271, 286; names of, 266-268; 
razor-cutting by, 316 

New Amsterdam, 193, 194 ; ball at, 
in 1874, 193 ; Chinese in, 212 

Nickerie, place called, 197 

Nightingale, Hester, 321, 322 

Norman, General Sir H., 335 

North, Mr. Keppel, 93 

Nurse, man named, 145 

" OBEAH," 281-284 

Onderneeming, Industrial School at, 

Opium-smoking, Chinese and, 212, 

Oraru-Malali Falls, 178-184 

Orchids, 82 

Ornithology : game birds, 84, 85 ; 
birds of British Guiana, 123, 124, 
131, 132; ducks, 118; Muscovy 
ducks, 13, 84, 85, 199; hoatzin 
(pheasant), 85 ; onomatopoetic 
birds, 123, 124 

" PAINLESS dentistry," 287, 288 

Palms, 131, 132 

Parker, Alfred, 72 

Parnell, Mr. H. G., 62 

Paterson, Mr., 166 

Penal settlement. See Massaruni 

Pepper-pot, the, of British Guiana, 

Percival, Exley, 72 

, Mrs., 58 

Perjury, 232-238 

Piwarrie feast, a, 119, 120, 122, 150, 


Plantain-stealing, 315 
Planters in British Guiana, 29-31 
Poisoning, 282 
Pollard, Mr. W. P., 185 
Polyandry among the East Indian 

immigrants, 218 

Pomeroon Kiver, 108-110, 113, 116 
Portuguese in British Guiana, 29, 

240, 272-281, 304 
Potaro River, 135, 137, 138 
Puruni River, 135 

RACECOURSE near Capoey Lake, 98, 

129, 130 

Races at Georgetown, 61-63 
Rainfall in British Guiana, 6, 7 
"Rallies of the tribes," 42-44 
Ramdass, East Indian immigrant, 

188, 189 

Ramdhin, Creole coolie named, 

241, 242 
, a Hindoo, murder committed 

by, 295, 296 

Ramlall, a Hindoo, death of, 226-231 
Rattlesnake, s.s., 185 
Razor-cutting by negroes, 316 
Reid, Alexander, 77 
Reliance Lake, 129 
Religion, 283, 284 
Reptiles : iguanas, 90 ; lizards, 100. 

See also Snakes 
Richmond, Plantation, 241 
Rigby, Father, 300 
Riot in Essequibo, 101-104 
Riots in Georgetown, March, 1889, 


River fish in British Guiana, 95 
Rookminia forges a will, 235-237 
Rose, Captain, 75 

, Miss, 191 

Rushworth, Mr. E. E., 72 
Russell, Hon. William, 30, 37 
Russians charged for vagrancy, 304, 


SAFFON, Mr. Paul de, 310 

Sail Rock (islet), 140 

Sala, G. A., born in Demerara, 149 

Samboura, 121 

Sandbach, G. R., 72 

Scheberras, Major, 69 

Scott, Governor, 185 

Seba, 166 

Sebacabra Hill, government post at, 

161, 164-166 
Seecharam, East Indian named, 219- 


Sellmore, case of, 327, 328 
Sentry, a faithful, 103, 104 
Servants in British Guiana, 255 
Shaw, Mr., of Eneyeudah Mission, 


Shields, William, 108, 114, 117, 118 
Simon, Robert (Arawak Indian), 

murder of, 151-158 
Sisters Creek, 199 

Slavery in British Guiana, 253, 254 
Smith, Rev. Canon, 72 
Smith, Sir William Haynes, 37 
Smuggling on the Corentyne River, 

Snakes in British Guiana, 90, 91, 97 ; 

anaconda, 90 ; boa-constrictor, 97 ; 

camoudie, 90, 91, 214 ; Jumping 

Jenny, 285; labarri, 182, 183; 

lanaria, 183 ; rattlesnakes, 91 ; 

yellow-tail snake, 97 



Society in British Guiana, 7, 8 
Soil of British Guiana, 82, 83 
Spaniard, a, runs amok, 279, 280 
Spence, Mr. David, 86 
Stephens, Mr., 77 ,..- 
Stevenson, Inspector, 164 
Stinking pheasant, 85 
Buddie, 102, 133, 260, 318 ; police 

entertainment at, 288, 289 ; an 

execution at, 305, 306 
Sugar, fall in price of, 335; names 

of, estates, 347 
Sugar plantations, 98 
Sunnicherry, Bindharry's daughter, 

241, 242 
Supernaam Creek, Indian Mission 

Station at, 124-126 
Superstition among the Hindoos, 


Surinam, 12, 302 
Swizzle, the (a drink of British 

Guiana), 25-28 

TAPPACOOMA Lake and Creek, 108, 
109, 129 

Tasmanian, s.s., 202, 203 

Tengely, Mr., 17 

Texeira, Portuguese named, 301, 302 

Thomson, Mr. James, 9, 10 

Tibbs, Captain, 69 

Tiber, s.s., 202, 203 

Tiger, Captain (Indian chief), 183 

Tiger Hill, 173 

Tiger Island, 134 

Tigress of Tiger Bay, 48 

Tim Sugar, woman named, 48, 49 

Tinne', Mr. J. E., 72 

Townsend, Nellie, 110-112 

Tragedy at Huis t'Dieren sugar 
estate, 12S-128 

Trollope, Anthony, and New Amster- 
dam, 194 

Trotman, Mr. B., 310 

Turner, Major, 277 

VAMPIRE bats, 177 
'Varsity dinner, 71, 72 
Veiidue, or auction sale, 200-202 
Venezuelan soldiers, raid by, 70, 

Venezuelans in British Guiana, 138 

Vieruni Creek, 173 

" Vixen," fox terrier, 71 

Vosux, Sir Henry des, 29 

WAKENAAM, island of, 225, 231; 

church in, 284 
Walker, Mr., of Supernaam Creek, 


Walker, Sir E. M., 185 
Walsh, Mrs., murder of, 297-301 
Waracabra tigers, 86-88 
Water-spirits, 176 
Waterton, 149 
Watson, James (jockey), 62 
Whitfield, Mr. Dick, 33-36 
Wild duck shooting, 199 
Wise, Colonel, 69 
Witchcraft, 281-283 
Woolward, Captain, of the Don, 193 
Wright, Inspector, 321, 322 
, Mr. Edward F., 64 

X. BEKE, Administrator-General of 
British Guiana, 68 ; anecdote told 
by, 268 

YELLOW fever, 16-18 
Youd, Rev. Thomas, 139 

Zoo in the Botanical Gardens, 
Georgetown, 56-58 

Zoology : armadillo, 57, 214 ; baboons, 
117, 118; deer, 89; goats, 100, 
101 ; wild hogs, 89 ; iguanas, 90 ; 
jaguars, 85, 86, 214 ; leopards, 86 ; 
monkeys, 89, 90, 131, 214; tapir, 
89 ; waracabra tigers, 86-88 



Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 




DEC 7 1952 

LD21-}OOm-9,'481B399sl6)476 1 


MAY 10 TO 

YC 10057